A CONVICTED drug dealer previously deported from Britain was caught growing more than 100 plants in a house in Southampton.

Migen Elezi, an Albanian national, had been tending to the crop worth up to £66,000 at the property in Sirdar Road, Portswood.

Police had been tipped off about the cannabis factory and surrounded the building with officers using a saw to try and get in.

READ MORE: Southampton county lines: More than 20 people arrested

Prosecuting, Roderick Blain told Southampton Crown Court that officers saw Elezi’s head peering over the roof.

The 42-year-old then climbed down and leapt off, breaking his wrist, and then tried to make a run for it.

But police gave chase and he was caught and arrested, with police bursting into the home shortly afterwards.

Six rooms were being used for growing cannabis with ventilation, high-powered leads, and quantities of fertiliser and chemicals found.

Mr Blain said the electricity supply had been bypassed with the operation “capable of producing significant quantities (of drugs) for commercial use”.

Daily Echo: Cannabis factory found in Sirdar Road, Southampton.Cannabis factory found in Sirdar Road, Southampton. (Image: Crown Prosecution Service.)

The home also contained a bedroom with food and a toothbrush with Elezi’s DNA on it.

Elezi, who had previously been jailed and deported for drug dealing on the streets of Brighton, admitted producing a drug of Class B.

But mitigating, Keeley Harvey said: “It is quite clear that this is a man who has been exploited in order to pay a debt”.

She said Elezi returned to the UK after being deported as a co-driver in a lorry, leaving him with a £15,000 debt to pay off to his traffickers.

He was then made to work in the cannabis factory until he had earned enough to pay the debt.

Ms Harvey added: “He is not actually ever going to get the cash in hand. He is not going to become rich off of it.

“We know that certainly with this kind of drugs network, their reach goes beyond the limits of Southampton and even these shores.”

But sentencing, Judge Keith Cutler CBE said "when you are a gardener you always have an awareness of the scale of the operation”.

He told Elezi: “You had a debt hanging over you. I’m willing to accept that your role was a lesser role in this."

Elezi was given a 16-month sentence on Friday.

The judge warned him that his sentences will get “bigger and bigger” and said: “Please do think very seriously about your future”.

An order was also made for the forfeiture and destruction of all of the drugs and drug paraphernalia seized in the raid on Sunday, September 4, 2022.