THREE Albanian men who were jailed for growing a £500,000 cannabis farm in Wigan town centre are to be deported upon their release from prison.
Vullnet Cjapi, 27 , Afrim Hoxha, 45, and Ledian Kola, 39, were last week sentenced to three years imprisonment for production of the drug.
And police have today (Wednesday), confirmed via Facebook that they will return to their home country once they are released.
Police raided the premises in Wallgate on May 5 after reports of suspicious activity and found the three men living there and tending the illicit crop. A number of people had also reported there was a smell of cannabis.
They found 2,202 plants and a sophisticated heating and lighting system was in use. The plants had a potential yield worth £550,000 on the streets.
A judge was told that there was evidence that there had been previous harvests though the total value is unclear as it was not known how long this commercial operation had been underway.
It is clear you had an understanding and awareness of the scale of this operation which involved the highly organised cultivation and production of cannabis plantsJudge Alan Conrad QC
All three men pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and were each jailed for three years and four months.
Sentencing them Judge Alan Conrad, QC said that no one had forced them to come to this country and once here the pressure on them to work as gardeners for the cannabis crop was economic rather than physical.
“It is clear you had an understanding and awareness of the scale of this operation which involved the highly organised cultivation and production of cannabis plants.”
Neville Biddle, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that “someone higher up the chain had set up the cannabis factory” and as illegal immigrants looking for work, food and accommodation they were vulnerable.
In defence the court heard that they men had not met before arriving at the premises and had all travelled over separately from Albania, arriving in lorries from France.
They had earlier had other jobs elsewhere in the country such as working in a car wash but none was known to have any previous convictions.