‘Cannon fodder’ caught with cocaine after driving blunder as he moved dealers’ Ford Fiesta for £55

An Albanian man agreed to move a vehicle from one car park to another on behalf of criminals for £55 – but he was caught by police with cocaine.

Gjergji Ekurani – branded “cannon fodder” by a judge – caught patrolling cops’ attention in Salford whilst they were checking people were complying with the Covid regulations in August 2020. The 21-year-old was spotted driving a Ford Fiesta the wrong way down to one-way street.

The car then reversed and went the correct way, then drove into a car park, Manchester Crown Court heard. Officers became concerned as to why he was out at that time and approached him.

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He initially handed them a Romanian driving license and gave an address in Little Lever, Bolton, but following further inquiries, the information did not match up to the man at the address or his date of birth.

Ekurani was handcuffed and searched, and police found a small amount of cannabis on him, which he said was for his own personal use.

“Officers then searched the car and found three mobile phones and in the middle console they found £230 in cash and four packages of cocaine,” prosecutor Duncan Wilcock said. Weighing approximately 1.73 grams with a purity of 60%, the total street value was said to be around £160.

Ekurani pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply class A drugs and possession of cannabis on a basis in which he said he was struggling financially since moving to the UK from Albania and was supporting his family who stayed there.

He said he was contacted by a male who offered him £55 to take the car from one car park to another and leave it there with the keys hidden nearby. He said neither the cash nor the drugs were his, and were left in the car. He added that he’d never dealt drugs before or since.

Ekurani was said to have no previous convictions either here or in Albania. It was added that nobody has come forward to claim the Ford.

In mitigation, barrister Peter Connick said his client was not engaged in selling directly to users. But, the judge said that this was a ‘common enterprise which he has been paid for’.

“He came to the UK from Albania to obtain work and a better quality of life. He came around four years ago to support his family from him, ”Mr Connick said.

“He has been doing odd jobs, he was a construction site worker and worked in a car wash.”

Sentencing, Recorder Jon Close said: “This was ultimately class A drugs intended to be sold on the street. You were not a street dealer but were playing a vital role in the enterprise and were essentially the cannon fodder required to move the drugs from point A to point B.

“Those more sophisticated than you intended for it to be suppliers, selling poison on the streets and spreading misery with it.”

Ekurani, of School Street, Little Lever, was handed a 20 month sentence which was suspended for 18 months, 150 hours unpaid work and 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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