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Jailed! Agency owner who helped Albanian gang create huge drug empire

A wealthy landlord who set up a fake lettings agency in Hull has been jailed for 11 years for allowing ‘ghost tenants’ to operate drug factories.

Anderson Estates was being used as a front to run the multimillion pound empire by a drugs gang. Whilst it never operated as an agency for other clients, it had a host of stock images and fake property advertisements displayed in its shop window.

Jeremy Southgate, 63, faked tenancies from his agency to cover up 17 cannabis factories at a range of houses, producing a crop with an estimated street value of £8.7m.


Southgate was said in court to own some 70 other properties in Hull producing a "vast legitimate income" but he fraudulently obtained two Covid bounce-back loans by overestimating his legitimate rental income.

Southgate, from Bridlington, was convicted last month after a nine week trial: he was sentenced this week.

The Hull Daily Mail reports that the court heard how Southgate began conspiring with an Albanian organised crime group in September 2019, allowing properties that he owned to be taken over to become cannabis farms over a two-year period.

The total amount of cannabis produced was estimated at 911.46kg, with a wholesale value of £4,385,925 or a street value of £8,766,038. 

The newspaper reports Judge Mark Bury telling Hull Crown Court that Southgate owned "a significant amount of property" in Hull. 

Judge Bury told the landlord/agent: "You were the owner of properties where there were 17 grows over a two-year period. Your role was that, not only did you own the properties, you from time to time checked on them and you went about concealing, or seeking to conceal, these various grows by putting 'ghost tenants' in the properties.”

You can see the full story here.


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