An illegal immigrant worked as a “cannabis courier” and ferried £50,000 worth of drugs through Hull to pay off his debt to human traffickers.
Klej Bengasi, 24, of Tavistock Street, Hull, was stopped by Humberside Police on Daltry Street on November 7 last year after officers became suspicious that the white transit van he was driving did not have an MOT certificate.
When Bengasi stopped the van he was questioned and told the police he was on his way to Leeds to pick up some furniture for a friend, to who the van belonged to.
Michele Stuart-Lofthouse, prosecuting, told Hull Crown Court on Wednesday that Bengasi told police he did not know what was in the back of the van.
She said: “There was a strong smell of cannabis coming from the vicinity of the van. Officers searched it and in the back there was a large black Sports Direct reusable carrier bag.
We report from Hull’s courts every week. So for the latest headlines and stories from Hull Crown and Magistrates Courts, subscribe to our free newsletter, sent out twice a week.
It’s free, easy and takes no time at all. Just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
“It contained five large bags of a herbal substance. It was later confirmed to be skunk.”
The total street value of the class B drug found was estimated to be £50,000.
Bengasi claimed at the time he had no idea the drugs were there.
He was also found to be in possession of two mobile phones, a passport, two identification documents in his own name, £860 in Scottish sterling, four receipts relating to various chemicals and plantpots and a further £125.
Miss Stuart-Lofthouse said: “There was one kilogram of cannabis in each of the five bags.”
When he was interviewed, Bangasi handed officers a pre-prepared statement that said he had only moved to his address a week before and did not know the area very well.
However, he needed to buy furniture and was going to buy some with the money he earned working in Scotland.
He told officers he had asked his friend if he could borrow his van to transport the furniture and he was doing that when he was arrested.
Miss Stuart-Lofthouse told the court Bengasi later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply on the basis that he was moving drugs to pay off debts he owed to people traffickers who had brought him into the country illegally.
David Godfrey, defending Bengasi, said there was little in terms of mitigation for his client other than his guilty plea and his basis of plea.
Recorder Najib handed him a six month sentence and said: “You’re 24, an Albanian national and you are here in the UK illegally.
“Five bags of skunk weighing around one kilogram each was found.
“You were motivated by a substantial, financial gain and you would have had some insight into scale of the operation.”
An order for the destruction of the drugs was also made.