‘Mr Big’ is jailed after £800,000, drugs bust
5 year sentence for cannabis boss Farm was found in Chestergate raid
ADRUG lord who ran a £824k cannabis factory in a town centre building has been jailed for five years.
Ahmed Mahmood was the Mr Big behind a highly-sophisticated cannabis farm set-up at a four-storey premises on Chestergate, a court heard,
Extensive alterations were made to the property to maximise the amount of high-strength skunk that could be grown, prosecutors claimed.
When police raided the premises on May 6, last year, they found 1,000 cannabis plants along with a sophisticated set up of heating and lighting equipment, a judge a Chester Crown Court was told.
They also discovered Hung Tran, a Vietnamese “gardener” employed to tend the plants, prosecutors said.
Officers estimated the farm could make dealers up to £824,000 a year, the court heard.
Investigations led detectives to Mahmood who had been renting the property since August 2013, prosecutors told the court.
Mahmood produced documents claiming he had sub-let the building to another man, but detectives found these to be bogus, the judge was told.
Mahmood, 40, of Sarnesfield Close, Gorton, Manchester, was found guilty of being concerned in the production of cannabis after a five day trial in November last year.
Sentencing, Judge Roger Dutton said: “You had the lease of a large commercial premises in the centre of Macclesfield and you determined that a way of making a substantial reward was to commence a cannabis production operation. You were in charge of it and knew perfectly well that this was serious and potentially very lucrative.
“You set about devising a bogus lease using a stolen passport so that you could claim to police you had no knowledge of if they came to your door and keep them off your trail. Well, you failed on that task.
“This was a substantial farm, producing 57kg of cannabis worth between £677,000 and £824,000.
“The premises was substantially modified and therefore damaged to the extent the owner has to deal with the cost of correcting it, as well as the dangerous situation with the electricity.
“While you may have had help with someone with the knowledge of cannabis production you were the leading light, you were the Mr Big in this operation and this was your baby.”
Mahmood, who has previous convictions for rape and assault, was jailed for five years, a sentence Judge Dutton claimed was ‘ an act of mercy’.
David Pojur, defending, denied that Mahmood was the ‘ Mr Big’ in the operation. He said: “It is correct that he involved other men. He was managing the production in a chain and was motivated by the potential reward.
“I would argue that Mahmood was not the leading role.
“The bogus lease was his undoing.
“He is disgraced. This is particularly hard on his wife and children and has caused a great deal of emotional stress.”
In October last year Hung Tran, 23, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 10 months after admitting to producing cannabis and is due to be deported.
He ended up in Macclesfield after travelling 6,000 miles from Vietnam to work in the UK.
The court also heard that the owner of the building had been left with a bill of almost £21,000 to fix the mess left by Mahmood’s drugs farm.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place at the court on April 20.
l● Just some of the 1,000 high-strength plants at the ‘sophisticated’ cannabis farm
●● A Police picture of the cannabis farm