Liverpool-based drugs gang caught with £1m worth of cannabis sentenced to 23 years in prison

Gang member Rixhers Shehi poses with a handgun. Image: Merseyside PoliceGang member Rixhers Shehi poses with a handgun. Image: Merseyside Police
Gang member Rixhers Shehi poses with a handgun. Image: Merseyside Police | Merseyside Police
The men were arrested during a joint sting operation by Merseyside Police and West Yorkshire Police.

Seven members of an Albanian drugs gang who produced cannabis with a street value of over £1 million have been handed sentences totalling more than 23 years in prison at Liverpool Crown Court.

The men were arrested during a joint sting operation by Merseyside Police and West Yorkshire Police in December last year as part of Operation Medaka.

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During the course of the investigation, more than 1,000 cannabis plants were seized, along with a handgun and ammunition.

Operation Medaka was an investigation into an Albanian Organised Crime Group (OCG) involved in large-scale cannabis production involving operations in Anfield and Bradford.

The men, crimes and prison sentences

The following men were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday having pleaded guilty to the following offences:

  • Jurgen Miha, 25, of no fixed abode was sentenced to five years and eight months  in prison for conspiracy to produce cannabis.
  • Arber Disha, 26, of High Road, Tottenham, London was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for conspiracy to produce cannabis.
  • Arjan Canamehti, 36, was sentenced to 22 months in prison for production of cannabis.
  • Rixhers Shehi, 20, was sentenced to six years in prison for possession of a firearm and ammunition and 22 months for production of cannabis, to be run concurrently.
  • Ergys Koleci, 25, of Anfield was sentenced to nine months in prison for production of cannabis.
  • Eran Zekaj, 27, of Anfield was sentenced to 12 months in prison for production of cannabis.

What’s been said

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Chris Lowe said: “This was a complex investigation into an organised crime gang who, led by Cara and Miha, were involved in large-scale criminality across Merseyside and West Yorkshire.

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“A number of addresses in the Anfield area of Liverpool were used, as well as hydroponic and DIY stores across Liverpool, in order to further their cannabis production activities.

“On 11 December 2020 a joint strike day with West Yorkshire Police led to the recovery of large quantities of cannabis. Armed officers gained entry to a disused mill on Filey Street in Bradford, and found a highly sophisticated cannabis farm, with 876 plants seized on the day.

Filey Street cannabis farm. Image: Merseyside PoliceFiley Street cannabis farm. Image: Merseyside Police
Filey Street cannabis farm. Image: Merseyside Police | Merseyside Police

“A Tokarev 8mm semi-automatic pistol with ammunition was also found inside, demonstrating the massive risk that such enterprises creates in the communities affected. Arrests were simultaneously made in the Anfield area.

“Such weapons have the capability to cause fear and harm wherever they are used. Mr Shehi was kind enough to take selfies with this gun, for which we were very grateful. He was later forensically linked to the weapon.

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“The growth, storage and sale of cannabis brings many risks to our communities. It is far from a victimless crime. Drug supply is closely linked to serious organised criminals and violence, and in removing such farms, we’re making your communities safer.”

How to spot a cannabis farm in your street

Some of the signs that cannabis is being grown are:

  • Strange smells and sounds
  • Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times
  • Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots, fertiliser, fans and industrial lighting
  • Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed
  • Heat from an adjoining property
  • Birds gathering on a roof in cold weather
  • Individually these activities may seem commonplace, however, together may indicate something more sinister

If you have any information about suspected drug production in your area, please contact @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.