An Albanian ‘slave’ is thought to have been trafficked from Europe to Cheltenham and then told to run a cannabis factory in two houses, a court was told on Wednesday.
Bashkim Hajdari, 46, of New Street, Cheltenham, appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court charged with the production of cannabis in two town houses.
He entered no plea but his defence lawyer Joan Hughes said that in police interview he had admitted his involvement in the production of the Class B drug.
The defendant was arrested on February 4 and is being held in custody, she said.
The magistrates heard from prosecuting lawyer Jessica Dobson that Hajdari told police that he was sent to the address in Cheltenham by a man in Belgium, who told him to look after the cannabis plants – for no pay.
It is thought that the defendant, who was assisted by an Albanian interpreter in court, had been involved in the production of cannabis at the two houses, since November of last year.
Ms Hughes told the court that an application was going to be made under the Modern Slaves Act for an assessment to be made, under the National Referral Mechanism, of her client’s status.
It is not known how the defendant entered the UK and the court heard that he was in possession of no papers or passport to support his entry.
Hajdari was remanded in custody “for his own welfare and protection” and the case was adjourned until Wednesday, February 13, when the results of the assessment will be revealed to the court.
A decision will then be taken whether to proceed with the prosecution.
After the raid which led to the defendant’s arrest on Monday, Gloucestershire Police said they discovered 208 cannabis plants growing in one house in New Street and a further 152 plants at another property on the road.
The drugs are believed to have a street value of £300,000.
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