Published: 15:49, 07 September 2019
| Updated: 07:26, 09 September 2019
A cash strapped migrant turned to cannabis farming after shelling out his savings to be smuggled into Kent.
Police discovered Elino Shabani, who'd been in the UK for just a few weeks, tending to 83 plants in a Canterbury home.
Officers discovered the haul spread across two rooms in Ulcombe Gardens under hydroponic lights and among other professional paraphernalia on July 27.
Judge Rupert Lowe sentenced the 20-year-old to 27 months in prison, explained he will likely be deported on release.
He added: “Within weeks of arriving in the United Kingdom you were offered and accepted a job farming cannabis for a number of days, or a short number of weeks.
“The police arrived at the address in Ulcombe Gardens in Canterbury to find you looking after a cannabis factory with two growing rooms containing 83 plants between them with all of the necessary paraphernalia.
“A further room was in the process of being made ready to increase the size of the factory.
“This was a professional, commercial operation producing significant quantities for commercial us.”
Canterbury Crown Court heard the Albanian tried gaining legitimate employment but struggled without identification.
Shabani turned to cannabis farming as part of a supply chain, however, he was not the main ring-leader according to Jason Dunn-Shaw, mitigating.
Prosecutor Amy Nicholson told Judge Lowe officers attended the property due to an unrelated matter.
The court heard the defendant spent a “significant” sum to get to the UK before turning to crime.
Shabani, of previous good character, made full admissions in police interview the court heard.
Judge Lowe continued: “You played a significant role in the chain by doing the gardening and motivated by the prospect of payment.
“It is hard to call that function a limited one since it is the actual production.
“What I do accept is that being an illegal immigrant in the UK you found it difficult to hold down legitimate work because you were unable to produce paperwork.”
Appearing via video-link from HMP Elmley with the aid of an interpreter, Shabani remained emotionless in the dock.
Shabani, of no fixed address pleaded guilty to producing a Class-B drug and will spend his sentence at a Young Offenders’ Institute.
"Within weeks of arriving in the UK you accepted a job farming cannabis" - Judge Rupert Lowe
Police have sinced issued advice to other residents to be vigilant.
Investigating officer, DC Allison Bridges, said: "Shabani’s sentence reflects the scale of the cultivation, which if sold in small amounts would have a street value of nearly £100,000.
"We will continue to target those committing drugs offences and would take the opportunity to remind residents of Canterbury to report anything suspicious to us.
"Anyone who suspects drug activity is taking place in their community should call us straight away on 101 or visit www.kent.police.uk/report."