A DISUSED Blackpool hotel was put to illegal use as a sophisticated cannabis farm, a court has heard.
It was estimated the operation may have produced drugs worth nearly £100,000 in all.
A Vietnamese illegal immigrant used as a “gardener” for the scheme has been jailed for two years for his part in the racket.
Tuyen Bui, 34, pleaded guilty to a charge of being concerned in the production of cannabis.
He is now likely to face automatic deportation because he received a prison term of more than 12 months.
The defendant was assisted by an interpreter at his Preston Crown Court sentencing hearing.
Duncan Birrell, prosecuting, said police went to the address on Barton Avenue, South Shore, on May 16.
The arrival of the police led to Bui hurriedly leaving the premises.
However, he was arrested very close to the scene.
A total of 1,195 plants were being cultivated in 13 different areas of the three-storey property
A forensic scientist estimated there might have been a total yield of 14.7 kilos to 18.6 kilos. This would have had a street value of around £84,295 to £92,749.
The prosecution accepted Bui had been a “gardener” in what took place.
He told police of having entered the UK illegally from France, having earlier been in the Czech Republic.
He said he had been put inside the property by a Chinese man who asked him to tend the plants.
He had been instructed to run away if the police came.
Fraser Livesey, defending, said his client was a hard working man who had been trying to provide a better life for his family back in Vietnam.
He had worked legitimately in the Czech Republic.
“He became a criminal by circumstance, rather than by design,” said his barrister.
“His inevitable custodial sentence will be served in very difficult circumstances. He has barely been able to communicate at all while on remand”.
The judge, Recorder Nicholas Fewtrell, said in passing sentence “This was commercial production on a substantial scale, with a high level of sophistication.
“I would be failing in my public duty if I imposed anything less than an immediate custodial sentence”.