TWO gang members arrested after police found imported cannabis resin worth up to £172,000 - Lancashire's biggest seizure of the drug - at a Burnley house have been jailed.
The town's Crown Court heard how the remnants of a large ecstasy haul were also discovered at the empty property in Hilary Street, in March.
Cannabis was growing in two sealed bedrooms and the kitchen was used for no other purpose than as a distribution centre for drugs.
Officers had kept watch on the premises for about a month after complaints from residents.
Irfan Ahmed, 20, of Colne Road, Burnley, whose family owned the house and who delivered drugs to local customers', was jailed for four years.
He was said to have been drawn into the operation because of the pull of flash cars.
Ahmed admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin and ecstasy.
Ahmed's cousin, Hassan Latif, 21, of Swinless Street, Burnley, who acted as courier and operated under Ahmed's instructions, was jailed for two years.
He admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin.
Cannabis user Michael Reilly, 28, of Belgrave Street, Nelson, who acted as "gardener" and tended the 36 cannabis plants at the house, was given 24 weeks in prison suspended for two years. He pleaded guilty to producing cannabis.
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told Ahmed, who would not say who gave him orders, he was involved in large-scale, commercial supply of the "filthy" drug and was prepared to profit from other people's misery.
She said the defendant was fairly high up the dealing chain and added: "People like you who are prepared to become involved in dealing drugs on this scale must understand the court will pass very lengthy sentences to punish you and deter others."
Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, said the house was the centre for distribution of drugs on a large scale.
Police saw a car pull up, Ahmed opened the door using a key and Latif carried a heavy box inside.
Latif then went back to the vehicle and took a heavy bag into the house.
Four minutes later both left and were arrested. Reilly was arrested at the back of the premises.
Mr Grout-Smith said inside the house was almost 61 kilograms of cannabis resin, probably the largest seizure in the county and worth up to £172,000 on the streets.
In the kitchen, in a box, officers found ecstasy tablets, the remnants of a cache.
Cannabis plants were growing in sealed rooms, with lighting and heating and were thriving.
The prosecutor said the defendants were questioned.
Ahmed made no comment. Latif told police he might get killed if he told them who had asked him to pick up the drugs from Hilary Street.
Gerard Doran, for Ahmed, told the court the defendant was sorry for the shame he had brought on his family.
He had been impressed by flash cars and the lifestyle associated with such an enterprise and had been persuaded and manipulated by others to get involved.
Roger Baldwin, defending Latif, a former National Express Coaches inspector, said he had spent his 21st birthday on remand and been due to start work for the Inland Revenue the week he was arrested.
Latif had met someone who asked him to go to a cash and carry for a shop and provided a vehicle.
Shortly afterwards he was asked to take packages to Hilary Street and on occasions take parcels from that address to waiting cars.
The barrister continued: "Though these packages were invariably sealed, he had a jolly good idea what was in them."
The defendant was not involved in direct selling of drugs and was not a major player.
Defending Reilly, who became a father two weeks ago, Mr Doran said his client got involved as he would probably get some of the cannabis crop.