Three foreign nationals will be deported after they were found to be tending to a cannabis farm in Burnley.

Sabian Hasaj, 22, Adrian Paluca, 25, and Nikoll Kaza, 23, were found huddled together in the cellar of the property where they had been tasked to look after the cannabis plants.

Preston Crown Court heard the three men had entered the UK illegally, and to repay the debt owed to the criminal group that got them into the country they were placed in the property and told to look after the plants as gardeners.

The trio had only been in the property for a matter of days before they were arrested.

Prosecuting, Peter Barr said police officers were called at around 10.30pm on September 27 to a disturbance close to Lark Street and Tabor Street in Burnley.

Whilst outside a disused furniture shop in the area, officer heard the sound of smashing glass from inside the building and, concerned for the welfare of anyone inside, entered the premises.

The building was secure and locked from the outside, but entry was gained with the assistance of the fire service.

Lancashire Telegraph: Sabian HasajSabian Hasaj (Image: Lancashire Police)

Going into the early hours of September 28, officers searched the building and found a cannabis farm, set up with heating, lighting, and irrigation.

They also noticed a trap door leading down into a cellar, and when opened and explored, that was where they found the three men.

They were arrested and provided no comment answers at their interviews.

Around 500 plants were discovered at the shop. The plants were said to be well established but not mature, and would have produced an expected yield of around 20kg, worth around £200,000.

Lancashire Telegraph: Nikoll KazaNikoll Kaza (Image: Lancashire Police)

Keith Harrison, in mitigation for Kaza, said his client was brought to the UK with the promise of financial reward due to trouble back home in Albania.

He said: “He wishes to apologise to the court for his involvement in this. He accepts his guilt in this matter.”

Mark Stuart, for Hasaj, said his client had come here illegally but upon expectation of far greater rewards for legitimate work than he could get in Albania.

He said: “Tending to cannabis plants in a disused shop in Burnley is probably not what he expected to be doing.”

Kristian Cavanagh, for Paluca, said his client was desperate to return home to Albania as he missed his family.

Lancashire Telegraph: Adrian PalucaAdrian Paluca (Image: Lancashire Police)

Judge Simon Medland, sentencing, said: “You would have come here by accessing unlawful immigration provided by serious organised criminal gangs.

"I have no doubt you are at the bottom of the heap and I have no doubt that to an extent you were lied to and taken advantage of, but that was the risk you were prepared to run in order to find your way into the UK.

“Cannabis is a dangerous drug in my experience in these courts. And all drug corrode society, break up families, destroy people’s health and mental wellbeing, and prevent them from playing a normal, productive part in society.

“Because of your nationality, each of you is now subject to automatic deportation under Section 32 of the United Kingdom Borders Act.”

Hasaj, of Cander Avenue, London; Paluca, of no fixed abode; and Kaza, of Tabor Street, Burnley, all had no previous convictions.

They each pleaded guilty to one count of producing a controlled drug of class B at a hearing in October.

They were each sentenced to 21 months in prison.