‘Mr Big’ is jailed after £800,000, drugs bust

5 year sen­tence for cannabis boss Farm was found in Ch­ester­gate raid

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

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

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