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Drugs gang hid behind student lets firm to make millions

Anderson Estates letting agent

An organised crime group which used a student letting firm as a front for their multi-million-pound empire have been guilty of drug offences.

The four men used multiple properties to harvest and sell drugs around Hull and the East Riding, operating behind Anderson Estates in Newland Avenue, and were thought to have made £2.4 million in profit every 11-13 weeks.

Hull Crown Court heard that Humberside Police launched an investigation in January 2021 after officers executed a misuse of drugs act warrant at a house on Anlaby Road and discovered £74,000 worth of Class B drugs alongside equipment associated with growing cannabis.

Surveillance

The agency, owned by Jeremy Southgate, 63, of Brough, and managed by Florjan Kasaj, 41, of Buckingham Street, Hull, began to draw the attention of surveillance officers who found that while Anderson Estates never operated as an estate agent, to play the part, a host of stock images and fake property advertisements were displayed in its shop window.

Behind the scenes, Southgate was buying properties at auction for low value cash sums and falsifying ghost tenant documents. Once the documents had been falsified, Florjan would then manage the properties and instruct both Dardan Mrishaj, 37, of Duesbery Court, Hull, and Evris Mrishaj, 25, of Peterborough, to manage the build of the cannabis factories as well as staffing them using illegal immigrants.

Evade detection

Southgate had even gained government grants to install insulation around each premises which helped evade detection of the factories.

Ervis Mrisgaj was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs; Florjan Kasaj was found guilty of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs; Dardan Mrishaj was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs; and Jeremy Southgate was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs, money laundering, and two counts of fraud by false representation.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

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