THREE men have been jailed for a total of more than 17 years after an undercover police operation unearthed a cannabis farm at a Blackburn warehouse.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Hornbeam, also uncovered the sale of other drugs in East Lancashire, including cocaine and amphetamine.

Drugs were sold to undercover officers at various places including a fast food restaurant car park in Accrington, and the Last Orders pub in Oswaltwistle, where police first met dealers.

Brian Fitzharris, 36, of Craven Street, Accrington, was jailed for nine years, and Kevin Barski, 36, of George Street, Accrington, got five years each.

They admitted a series of drug offences including conspiracy to cultivate cannabis, and supplying amphetamine and cocaine.

Michael Hartley, 59, of Snowden Avenue, Blackburn, was sent to prison for three years and three months after admitting his part in the cannabis conspiracy.

Hartley and Fitzharris also admitted conspiracy to deliver counterfeit notes.

Preston Crown Court heard that the crop of skunk' cannabis which was being cultivated was destined for sale at last summer's World Cup football clashes in Germany.

Two other men, Shaun Shorrock, 39, of Sulby Road, Blackburn, and Kenneth Burrows, 62, of Alexander Close, Clayton-le-Moors, were both given suspended 50-week jail sentences.

They were also ordered to do 100 hours community work for their involvement in the cannabis factory at a mill in Newton Street, Blackburn.

Preston Crown court was told that at the mill police found cannabis plants and equipment to grow the drug.

During the invest-igation, officers were sold drugs and conversations taped, the court was told.

Judge Pamela Badley told Fitzharris that he had been "trusted by others higher up the drug chain."

She told Hartley he had been a "significant cog "in setting up the cannabis farm.

Alexandra Simmonds, prosecuting, told the court how Operation Hornbeam was set up in August 2005 and officers started frequenting the Last Orders Pub on Union Road, Oswaldtwistle.

After the case, Det Insp Dermott Horrigan, said: "These sentences should send a clear message to those who wish to engage in such destructive activity within our communities that their actions will not be tolerated.

"Whilst the rewards may seem attractive, the reality is that they will be caught, convicted and sentenced to a significant term of imprisonment.

"Our aim is to engage with our communities in order to rid ourselves of this blight."