An Albanian drug dealer who arrived in the UK on a migrant boat was found running a £649,000 cannabis farm throughout a historic 15-room Tayside mansion.
Flogerd Baqli, 26, lied that he was a victim of human trafficking when he was part of an organised crime gang overseeing a huge drug cultivation in Broughty Ferry.
He was remanded in custody pending sentence on Tuesday after he admitted producing cannabis at 42 Victoria Road on January 30 this year.
Dundee Sheriff Court was told 649 cannabis plants were found inside the listed mansion – estimated to be worth £1.4 million – when it was raided by police.
Baqli – who arrived in England on a boat from France – tried to flee but he was caught after a police chase and arrested close to the property.
Transported on small boat
Fiscal depute Lynn Mannion told the court: “He is an Albanian national and is unemployed.
“He has no known address in the United Kingdom.
“In June 2022, the accused was transported from France on a small boat, landing on the south coast of England, where he claimed asylum.
“He advised he was a victim of human trafficking and this was investigated by the authorities.
“He offered to plead guilty in June 2023 but that could not be accepted until the human trafficking had been fully investigated.
“A conclusive grounds decision that the accused was not a victim of human trafficking was intimated to the Crown on 17 October 2023.”
Ms Mannion police were told of suspicions about a drug farm in the “substantial Victorian mansion with a private driveway” which appeared to be “in a state of renovation” and gained a search warrant.
“At 9am on 30 January entry was forced through the primary door.
“The accused and another male were seen and they ran out of a rear exit but were chased and apprehended.
“The property had been converted into a substantial cannabis cultivation.
“There were 14 different rooms – all containing a quantity of plants in two stages of growth and with sophisticated equipment.”
She told the court both downstairs and upstairs were divided into two distinct areas, split between fully-grown plants and partially-grown plants at seedling stage.
Ms Mannion said the officers recovered 316 fully grown plants, along with a further 332 plants at an earlier stage of growth.
She said the potential yield of the crop was £649,000.
‘Substantial, sophisticated cultivation site’
Sheriff Tim Niven-Smith said: “The narrative sets out a substantial and sophisticated cultivation site.
“It would seem likely this accused was a conduit for far more serious criminals who go about their business in an organised manner.
“One way the court can apply consistency is to use either the number of the plants or the potential value of the cultivation.
“The potential value in this case is in excess of half a million pounds – on any view that is a substantial quantity of drugs.
“The accused must be under no illusion that despite being a conduit for others, the cultivation of a substantial quantity of cannabis could not have been achieved.
“The court shall be considering the imposition of imprisonment.”