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Drug courier found with £15,000 of cannabis said he was 'doing favour for friend'

A drug courier who claimed he was "doing a favour for a friend" was found carrying up to £15,000 worth of cannabis. He was caught red-handed by the police with the drugs in freezer bags as he left a house.

Feriz Arifaj, 52, was discovered with the cannabis by an officer on patrol in Cwmbran on June 12. At 1.30pm the officer saw a black Mercedes, in which the defendant was a front-seat passenger, driving in Chapel Street and entering Cae yr Ebol,

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday heard Arifaj left the car and entered a house in Chapel Street but left two minutes later carrying two "heavy-laden" Aldi freezer bags. As he observed the defendant the officer could smell the aroma of cannabis.

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Prosecutor Nuhu Gobir said the officer approached Arifaj who look startled and placed the bags on the floor. He identified himself as a police officer and detained the defendant and searched him. Inside the Aldi freezer bags were three vacuum-packed bags containing cannabis.

Arifaj was arrested and found in possession of £9,000 in cash and keys to the property in Chapel Street which the defendant had entered. Mr Gobir said: "The house was searched and a first-floor attic contained the hallmarks of a recently-kept cannabis factory."

The female flowering head cannabis weighed three kilos in total and had a combined wholesale value between £9,600 and £15,000. Arifaj, of Pontnewydd Walk, Cwmbran, was interviewed but gave no comment. He later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cannabis and possession of criminal property on the basis he was acting as a courier.

The court heard the defendant was interviewed by a probation officer who said Arifaj had been married for 18 years and had no issues with drugs or alcohol. He claimed he agreed to transport the drugs as a "favour" and in his home country of Albania friends would do favours for one another but he had now learnt a "salutary lesson".

Recorder Mark Cotter KC sentenced Arifaj to a 12-month community order. He also ordered him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

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