A pair of cannabis farmers were snared in a police raid in Chesterfield just days after arriving in Derbyshire.
Greek national Ntenis Pteritai and illegal Albanian immigrant Mariglen Skendaj were caught red-handed in a flat above a shop where they were tending to what a judge said was “a factory”.
In total, 140 plants of the class B drug, worth up to £7,000, were recovered from an attic room which had been specially adapted for growing it.
Derby Crown Court heard how boxes of compost and plant food were unearthed in a second attic room at the property.
Now the duo have been jailed for a combined total of almost four years after admitting to growing the drug.
Judge Jonathan Bennett said: “The two of you were arrested on November 16 when a flat above a shop where you had been living for just a short time was raided by the police.
“It was being used for growing cannabis and I would describe it as a small factory.
“Two rooms in the attic had been adapted for the growing of cannabis and a substantial number of plants– some 140 – were found growing in one of them.
“It was a relatively professional operation with lighting and compost and the electricity had also been by-passed from the shop below.
“It was dangerous because wiring was exposed.”
Mark Knowles, prosecuting, said police raided the flat in Wharf Lane, Chesterfield, at around 10am on November 16.
He said officers forced their way through the door and found both Petritai, 23, and Skendaj, 36, inside.
Mr Knowles said: “One of the bedrooms was set up with two separate beds while the other, in an attic room, had been adapted to grow the cannabis.
“140 plants in total were discovered to be growing.”
He said both men were interviewed and, while Petritai answered “no comment” to the questions he was asked, Skendaj admitted to officers he had arrived weeks before illegally from Albania and found himself in London.
Mr Knowles said: “He told officers he had no money and was introduced to a man who drove him to Derbyshire and placed him in the flat.
“He said he was told how to tend to the cannabis by the man and that his co-defendant, who he had never met before, arrived a few days later.”
Both men, of Wharf Lane, Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to one count of production of cannabis.
In mitigation the court heard how they did not set up the grow themselves and that plants were already growing when they arrived to tend to them.
Judge Burgess jailed Petritai for two years and Skendaj for 22 months as he made admissions to the police when he was arrested.
He said that, as the sentences were over 12 months, they would be liable for deportation at the end of their sentences but that the final decision on this would be down to the Secretary of State.
- This story first appeared on Derbyshire Live.