TWO illegal immigrants who came to the UK to find work have been jailed after getting involved with a £2million cannabis farm at an industrial estate.

Albanian nationals Emiljan Gjura, 31, and Ermir Reshiti, 35, appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced for their parts in a “sophisticated operation” discovered in Grainger Road, in Southend.

The pair were jailed for two years each

The court heard how the duo were arrested at the cannabis farm on April 20 during the first of several police raids in the road.

A total of 3,727 plants have been found at the site, worth more than £2 million.

Gjura and Reshiti had been living at the industrial estate which stored the cannabis, with them both tending the plants.

Shazia Malik, mitigating for Gjura, said: “He came to the UK in desperation after he watched the family home be repossessed due to overdue loans for education.

“He was working in construction and became homeless due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was offered work and accommodation in Southend.”

Christopher Whitcombe, mitigating for Reshiti, said: “His job in this operation was gardener, he was asked if he wanted work and agreed after coming to the UK in search of money as his mother is serious ill and he wanted money to get her better health care.”

Sentencing the pair, both of no fixed address, Judge Ian Graham said: “This was a sophisticated operation with CCTV to protect the haul of drugs inside the units. You have given no indication of who recruited you and set you up in n this operation.”

The judge spared the pair responsibility for setting up the operation, and added: “You had no influence to those above you and became involved with this operation due to naïvely and your status as illegal immigrants.

“I sentence you both to two years in prison immediately.”