AN illegal immigrant caught red-handed tending a substantial 144 plant cannabis farm in Bradford has been jailed for two years.
Kristjan Kalaj tried to flee as police with a search warrant were forcing their way into a house in Southfield Road, Little Horton, on August 4, Bradford Crown Court heard.
Three upstairs rooms at the rented property had been converted into a drug farm capable of producing thousands of pounds worth of skunk cannabis.
Kalaj, 29, an Albanian national who entered the country illegally, pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis.
He was sentenced on a video link to Leeds Prison where he was remanded in custody.
His barrister, Abdul Shakoor, said he came to the UK because of dire economic circumstances in his homeland.
He was acting under orders to tend the cannabis plants and given instructions on how to care for them.
Judge Richard Mansell QC said it was a substantial cannabis grow with plastic sheeting to block out the light and powerful heat lamps powered by electricity bypassed from the meter.
The 144 female plants were approaching maturity when the police raided the house.
Converting the property to a cannabis farm had caused serious damage that the landlord would have to find the money to repair.
Kalaj had an iPhone and £80 in cash on him when he was apprehended and more money was found at the house.
He told the police he was working for an organised criminal group based in Belgium.
He would get 25 per cent of the profits from the grow, minus expenses.
Judge Mansell told him: “You were performing a vital role in tending the crop of cannabis for money.
“It was a substantial grow capable of producing significant amounts of skunk cannabis for commercial sale.”
Judge Mansell said Kalaj was at risk of deportation when he had served his sentence.