THE SUSPECTED head of a crime group that uses smuggled Albanian migrants to farm cannabis has been arrested in Wales during a National Crime Agency operation. The man, aged in his fifties, was arrested by officers at an address in Prestatyn, north Wales, on Monday (May 23).
In coordinated strikes supported by officers from North Wales Police, a second man, in his 60s, was arrested at another address in the town. A third man, a 28-year-old Albanian national, was arrested by Cheshire Police on the M6. The trio were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to cultivate and distribute cannabis and money laundering.
Police are also appealing for information about two other men they want to speak to in connection with the operation. It is believed the crime group has links to a Western Balkans organised crime group which facilitates the illegal entry of Albanian nationals into the UK.
Once in the country, the migrants work in the group’s cannabis farms, it is believed. As part of the investigation, three cannabis farms were previously discovered with Albanian migrants working there. They were in Blackpool, Lancashire; Leigh, Greater Manchester, and Prestatyn.
NCA officers are appealing for information to trace Albanian national Jeton Memia, 29, who has links to Manchester and Southend in Essex. Officers are also appealing for information to trace Trevor Williams, 61, of Ruthin, north Wales.
During searches connected to Monday’s arrests, officers discovered two RIBS (rigid inflatable boats), quantities of cash, crack cocaine and cannabis and drugs paraphernalia associated with cannabis farms. NCA operations manager Julie Booker said: “This is a complex investigation into organised crime groups that have been running cannabis farms across the country and facilitating illegal migrants into the UK to work in them.
“We are appealing for information to help trace two men who we want to speak to as part of our investigation. We believe these arrests will have significantly disrupted the crime groups and their ability to operate.” Anyone with information should contact the NCA Control Centre on 0370 496 7622 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.