Loku decided he wanted to work on a UK cannabis farm after seeing the riches enjoyed by “the London guys” of Albania’s capital Tirana.
The men, freshly returned from cultivating a bounty of marijuana sold to Brits, are always flaunting their wealth and in Loku’s modest neighbourhood it strikes a chord.
“I see many people who come back from England having earned between £200,000 and £500,000,” the 25-year-old told the Daily Express.
“They buy a house, start a new business and show off in the street, they always have the most beautiful ladies. You need to understand that when I see that it goes directly into my heart. I want to do the same thing.
“I know many people here in Albania who get the money from London working that kind of job and they start a new business here. It’s something that’s common.”
Loku explained that in a country where the annual salary is just £4,200 per year seeing a fellow twenty-something driving a brand new Mercedes after just a couple of months in the UK makes the work alluring regardless of risk or illegality.
Endemic corruption means some of the best-educated people Loku knows earn shamefully low salaries in Albania.
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“The way that Albanians work in London is different compared to other nationalities. We don’t want to work by levels, having a process that slowly evolves, we want to change our life drastically in six months to a year. This is our mentality,” he added.
Another appealing aspect of becoming a “London guy” for Loku is that opportunities are readily available.
“I had a friend in England who owns some houses to produce drugs and he said to me I’m a manager and I invite you to come and work for me, I will have everything ready,” he continued. “I started to think about that because I needed money.
“He explained to me the process is going to last two or maybe three months in total. I need to work with the cannabis plants every day. Once they are cultivated I will be paid and we will restart again, moving from place to place.
“I get 20% of the value of the crop. Everything depends on how we work. If we do an intensive job, every day I’ll earn more.”
Loku explained he would not be allowed to leave the property housing the cannabis farm until the drug was harvested.
Food would be brought to him, but he would be expected to entertain himself through this solitary confinement and be a good neighbour to the homes around him.
He claimed those in control had told him to surrender immediately should the drug house be robbed and not to worry about potential intruders because in the UK they “did not use weapons”.
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Having been in regular contact with friends already working in cannabis farms on WhatsApp Loku feels well-equipped for the challenge.
He has seen videos of what he has to do and there is a promise of promotion to act as a dealer should he perform well as a drug house worker.
Earnings for drug house workers depend on how much cannabis can be successfully grown in the building they are working in – which can be any type of property from houses to abandoned police stations, hospitals or children’s nurseries.
A fully grown cannabis plant has a street value of around £1,500 so harvests from smaller flats can earn sums in the tens of thousands, whilst large industrial units can deliver revenue in the millions.
As the cultivation takes around three months, workers can work on around four harvests per year and, if offered the rate Loku has been, if they work in farms with more than 100 plants they can expect to earn about £120,000 in a year.
Earlier this year, Loku made his first attempt to travel illegally to Britain for a cannabis farm job.
After finding a people smuggler on TikTok he travelled to Dunkirk and readied himself to cross the Channel on a small boat.
The young man spent days sleeping in a freezing tent in a camp filled with Albanian men, the majority of whom shared the dream of working on a drug farm, until the Kurdish gang which organises the treacherous dinghy trips said it was time to go.
He said: “Everyone told us they were 99% sure that the boat was ready. We entered into the water for like 10 to 15 metres, but in the last moment we saw the police and we had to go back and just escape.”
After 10 days trying to evade the police to make the crossing, Loku returned to Albania having run out of food and money.
He now describes the trip as a “disaster movie” but it hasn’t lessened his appetite to try again and will make another attempt when he has the funds.
“My father says that you don’t need to go and work with drugs, you can stay here and live in a decent way. But here the wages are only £300 to £350 a month,” Loku added.
“My goal is to work for some years and come back here, buy a house and start a new business. A lot of friends did the same thing in London and I want to copy them.
“It’s a dream because you can change life for you and your family. You can get out of the poverty in this country.”
Responding to Loku’s description of the link between small boat crossings and the drugs trade Alp Mehmet chairman of Migration Watch UK, said it was time for action.
“Albanian drugs’ gangs have dominated the UK crime scene for some years,” he said. “The steady stream of young people are conned and coerced into coming here to make lots of money and [have] an easy life. They could easily be stopped by the French authorities.
“While we blithely let them in if they manage to get here. It reflects serious failures by governments and agencies on both sides of the Channel. It is time they all got their act together.”
The Home Office was approached for comment.
Additional reporting by Eraldo Harlicaj
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