A PAIR of Albanians caught in a multi million pound cannabis farm down a disused mine in Bradford on Avon have been jailed for 18 months.

Alksander Shyti, 46, and Altin Deda, 39, tended hundreds of plants in the massive underground operation in the highly sophisticated operation.

If all the drugs grown in the old stone quarry had made it on to the streets they would have been worth in excess of £3m, a court was told.

Following a tip off from a cave explorer in September police went to Bethel Quarry in Bradford on Avon and found the large scale operation up and running.

Inside the 50 metre deep mine, which was behind two large metal doors padlocked closed at ground level, they found 14 tents spread across 10 acres of caverns.

There was a plastic swimming pool which provided water for the plants and even a makeshift gym so the workers, who were on £100 a day, could keep fit.

Although they said they were locked in, and given ‘beans and beer’ to live on, Deda’s Oyster card and mobile showed he repeatedly travelled to Enfield in north London.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court there were also drying rooms and a structure which was being used to house the two men.

The operation was uncovered in September by an ‘urban explorer’ investigating the cave for the first time since 2015, when it was empty.

After police went through a thick black plastic screen covering the subterranean entrance they were hit by the light and warmth, as well the smell of cannabis.

In the tunnels officers spotted 14 black agricultural tents each about three metres by five metres which had light coming from inside and ventilation holes.

There was heating systems and hoses connecting to a nearby reservoir providing water into the small plastic pool and propagators for seedlings.

There were also two other MDF buildings which were being used to hang the harvested drugs before packaging.

Although only 598 plants were found it is thought, from what was uncovered, that the operation had been going for three years.

The court heard that there were stumps from cut plants showing earlier harvests which had already hit the streets.

Speaking through an Albanian interpreter the men, both of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to cannabis production.

Gerard Hillman, for Shyti, told the court both men came into the UK on the back of lorries and his client had a wife and three children at home.

He said “They are illegal entrants to this country looking for work. He paid 8,000 Euros to come in to this country and that had to be repaid.”

Laura Holknell, for Deda, said he had come to the UK to make money to send home to his wife and two children in Albania.

She said that he was at the lowest end of the operation and had no control over what was going on.

Jailing them Judge Jason Taylor QC said “The role of both of you was to be gardeners and quasi guards.

“There were 598 plants present. The total value if all those flowered was £366k.

“The yield would be approximated 20kg every six weeks with a value of approximately £100k.

“Over a year it would be 165kg with a value in excess of £800k but given the period you were there it seems to me the correct and proper comparator is the six-week period.

“You were both cogs in an obviously far larger machine and had it been in situ for three years the total yield would have exceeded £3m.”