Albanian man fled £100,000 Hartlepool cannabis house after entering UK illegally on small boat crossing

An Albanian man who entered the UK on a small boat channel crossing has been jailed after he was caught working in a Hartlepool cannabis house.
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Andi Kovaci, 28, fled from the property in Kent Avenue, at Belle Vue, when police raided the address last November.

Rachel Butt, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “He dropped keys and proceeded to jump over walls and garden fences.

"He was detained in an alleyway.”

Andi Kovaci was jailed for 34 months for his involvement in a Hartlepool cannabis house.Andi Kovaci was jailed for 34 months for his involvement in a Hartlepool cannabis house.
Andi Kovaci was jailed for 34 months for his involvement in a Hartlepool cannabis house.
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Officers discovered 126 cannabis plants in the house with an estimated street value of between £35,280 and £105,840.

Kovaci pleaded guilty to production of a class B drug although he disputed the extent of his involvement by claiming he was a low level part of the operation.

But a judge did not believe him after hearing different versions of why he became involved.

Kovaci said he was working there to help pay off a debt to people smugglers.

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But he later said he was doing it as a favour for friends and that he had paid off £5,000 to enter the UK illegally in 2020.

Following the drugs raid in Hartlepool, police also discovered a TikTok video on his mobile showing him and two other men waving bundles of cash.

Kovaci claimed it was borrowed for the people smugglers although the video was made two months after he arrived in the UK.

Jailing him for 34 months, Judge Chris Smith said: “Your account was not credible.

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"I’m satisfied that you came to help out because you had some significant involvement in this criminal scheme.”

Kovaci, of no fixed address, was told he will likely be deported when he is released from prison.