Harrogate landlady ordered to pay back £142,000 after renting properties to Albanian drugs gang

74-year-old Yoko Banks, from Harrogate, was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

A landlady who knowingly rented out high-end properties to an Albanian drugs gang has been ordered to pay back more than £142,000.

Yoko Banks, 74, from Harrogate, was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 2021 after she was found to be involved in a sophisticated cannabis-growing operation.

It came after a disturbance in Alexandra Road in the town left a trail of cannabis debris in the street.

A subsequent police investigation led to the seizure of around £300,000 worth of cannabis from two vehicles.

An established cannabis farm along with equipment was found in the property at Alexandra Road.

A search of further properties owned by Banks revealed two more cannabis farms in Woodlands Road and Somerset Road. In total police seized cannabis with a street value of up to £240,000 from the three properties.

Police found large-scale cannabis productions at the luxury properties. Credit: North Yorkshire Police

The houses had been rented out and then sub-let to the organised crime gang.

A court has now ordered Banks to repay the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act. She faces another year in jail if she fails to meet the order within three months.

Det Insp Janine Mitchell, head of financial investigation at North Yorkshire Police, said Banks had knowingly rented out her high-end properties to criminals.

"We will take every opportunity to use the legislation to its capacity to ensure no-one benefits from crime," she said.

"Banks had knowingly rented out high-end Harrogate properties to the organised crime gang in return for thousands of pounds in rental income."