THREE men who ran and controlled several county-wide cannabis farms have been jailed and face deportation.

The farms, with a combined turnover of £2 million a year, were shut down over a protracted ten-month covert police operation, ending in April.

Edlir Ganoshi, Elidjon Pashallari and Arber Ganoshi, Albanian nationals who are all related and oversaw the operation, were arrested on April 22, when police also seized thousands of pounds of their ill-gotten gains.

Arber Ganoshi was found with £22,000 in a safe under his bed, while cousin Edlir had £10,000 hidden in a wardrobe, of the house where they were living in Sunderland Road, Gateshead.

Six other addresses were targeted in raids on cannabis farms in Nevilledale Terrace, Durham, at Holly Park, Brandon, in Fallow Road, Newton Aycliffe, at Frederick Street North, in Meadowfield, at Newtown Villas, Sacriston, and in Mitchell Street, Birtley.

Search team officers also discovered several passports which were later identified to be owned by a group of Albanian men who tended to the grows.

In all seven men tending the grows were arrested in 2020 and earlier this year and are now serving combined prison sentences of ten years.

The trio considered at the “upper level” of the gang appeared at Durham Crown Court this week.

Arber Ganoshi, 27, from Park View, Springwell Village, Gateshead, changed plea and admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis.

He received a 39-month prison sentence and a deprivation order for the £22,000 seized on arrest.

Pashallari, also 27, of Sunderland Road, Gateshead, also changed plea and admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis and received 48-month prison sentence.

Edlir Ganoshi, 32, also from Sunderland Road, changed plea in October and admitted the money laundering offence of possessing criminal property.

He received an eight-month sentence and a deprivation order for the £10,000 found on arrest.

As with his two compatriots, he will be deported following his release from prison.

Detective Inspector Graham Low, of Durham Police, who led the operation, said: “I am really pleased with the outcome, which is the culmination of ten months of hard work by a dedicated team of officers.

“I hope it sends a clear message we will take action to dismantle, disrupt and destroy these gangs.”

Thanking members of the public who provided key information to help destroy the network, he urged anyone who suspects drug dealing or growing to contact police, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on (0800) 555111.

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