A mother and son who grew cannabis in homes across Blackpool as part of a £350,000 drugs enterprise have been jailed for a total of more than 12 years.
Police discovered the plants at four addresses in the country – three of which were in Blackpool on Kirby Road, Reads Avenue and Shaw Road.
Xun Zhang, 49, from Sheffield, was jailed for six years and eight months. Her son Haobo Dou, 23, was handed a six-year prison term.
Both denied conspiracy to produce cannabis between June 2010 and March last year but were found guilty by a jury following a nine week trial at Preston Crown Court.
The Blackpool addresses were all bought for cash.
The one on Kirby Road was bought in July 2010 for £55,000. By January 2011, 291 cannabis plants were found being grown there, worth up to £99,000. At a wholesale price it would have been £46,000.
In February 2011, police went to the Reads Avenue property after a substantial fire which had been caused by an electricity supply being bypassed.
Inside 215 plants were growing, worth between £49,000 and £73,000.
The building had been bought for £63,000.
The property on Shaw Road had been bought for £45,000. A total of 453 plants were found, worth between £103,000 to £155,000.
Defending Zhang, Nicola Gatto said she had come to this country in 2005 as a dependent of her husband and gained UK citizenship five years later.
She told the court: “Since arriving in this country she didn’t claim any benefits, nor did her husband. There was a genuine intention to try to get work.
“There is no evidence of any lavish living. Money was being brought in from China to buy the properties.”
Waheed Omran-Baber, for Dou, said: “It is unlikely he will ever be allowed a visa back into this country.
“He was under the direction of his mother when the offence occurred. She seems rather a dominant personality.”
A third defendant, Baoming Yang, 46, from Nuneaton had pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge. The court heard he watered 66 plants in Nuneaton, and was jailed for 10 months. He will be released immediately because of time spent on remand.
Ben Southam, senior crown prosecutor at the North West CPS Complex Casework Unit, said: “The cannabis was destined for the streets of the United Kingdom and possibly abroad. They created a risk to the neighbours of the properties by virtue of the electrical supply, culminating in a fire at one of the properties.
“The convictions and sentences imposed show that the CPS and police will not tolerate those involved in the production and supply of drugs, and we will bring to justice those who commit such offences.”