Two Albanian men have been jailed after police discovered a cannabis factory in a terrace house.
Officers stopped a Mercedes at 1am on December 28 and found the two defendants inside along with a baseball bat in the footwell.
They then searched an address in Oldfield Street, Fenton, and found it was converted into a cannabis factory with 119 plants worth between £42,000 and £65,000.
Now 24-year-old Klodian Bicukaj has been jailed for 27 months and 34-year-old Preng Prenga was locked up for 15 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
Prosecutor Howard Searle said police were on patrol at 1am on December 28 when they pulled over a Mercedes car driven by Bicukaj with Prenga the passenger.
Mr Searle said: “A baseball bat was in the rear footwell. Police seized £350 from Prenga’s wallet and 240 euros.
“Officers then searched an address in Oldfield Street, Fenton, which was close by. There was a cannabis production in place. Three rooms in the house and loft were being used. It was a well organised professional system using high powered lights, extractor fans and insulation. The electricity meter had been bypassed.
“The police recovered 119 cannabis plants. Just under half, 52, were in a good state of growth, the other 67, in the loft, were consistent with being a follow-on crop. The plants had a street value of between £42,000 and £65,000.”
Inquiries found Bicukaj had paid the rent in November and Prenga’s fingerprints and DNA were found inside the house.
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Bicukaj, of Woodside, Birmingham, and Prenga, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis. Bicukaj also admitted possession of an offensive weapon.
Giles Bedloe, representing Bicukaj, said his client paid the rent under the direction of another who managed the premises.
He said: “He was reluctantly assisting with this cannabis grow to pay off the debt of his father who had run up thousands of pounds of gambling debt.
“The baseball bat was given to him for protection. He took it reluctantly. He never used it. He is not a violent person.”
Jason Holt, mitigating for Prenga, said his client entered the UK in November and met a man in Birmingham who brought him to the Potteries to carry out some decorating work.
He stayed in the house for 10 days and assisted the man in watering the plants and turning the lighting on and off. He did not receive any money for producing the cannabis.
Judge David Fletcher said: “It was a well-established, sophisticated cannabis growing operation. Anyone entering the property would immediately be put on notice they were entering a commercial cannabis growing operation. You both accept you were involved in that cannabis production.”
The judge made an order for the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and the forfeiture of the £350 seized from Prenga.