Two men acted as “gardeners” for a huge cannabis farm in a “derelict” abandoned restaurant after the job was “advertised on TikTok".

Artan Haka, 38 and Juljan Sulaj, 25, were found to be living in sparse conditions connected to the abandoned Buffet King restaurant on Bradshawgate.

Bolton Crown Court heard how police found the two Albanian nationals had been tending to hundreds of cannabis plants spread across more than 10 rooms.

Prosecutor Kevin Lister said: “A large leak of water was discovered in an abandoned restaurant that was tracked to an adjacent property.”

He added: “There over 10 rooms filled with mature plants and one with baby plants.”

The Bolton News: The pair were found in a property linked to the old Buffet King restaurantThe pair were found in a property linked to the old Buffet King restaurant (Image: Public)

According to Mr Lister there were around 760 plants in total, coming to around two kilograms worth of cannabis.

He told the court how police then went into the building’s attic were they found two beds, found and clothing with a kitchen area.

Mr Lister said: “The property was in a very poor state, the defendants were found in the basement, hiding.”

The two men were then arrested and Haka admitted to police that he had come into the UK illegally in 2020 and had moved between London, Birmingham and then Bolton.

Mr Lister said: “Then, needing money, he took this job, in the loosest sense, which he saw advertised on TikTok.”

The Bolton News: Artan HakaArtan Haka (Image: GMP)

Haka claimed that his role had been to water the plants and that he had not left the building in two months.

Sulaj, the younger man, gave no comment when interviewed by police.

But Haka and Sulaj, both of no fixed address, ultimately pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs.

Alex Beevers, defending Haka, argued that he had earned credit by pleaded guilty and said that “pressure and naivete” had led him to crime.

He also told the court that Haka, who has no previous convictions, had paid to have his wife brought into the country, leaving him in need of money.

Mr Beevers said: “The picture of the plants describes a very depressing and exploitative picture.”

Turning to the conditions the pair had been living in, he added: “It can perhaps best be described as a dilapidated ruin.”

Edwin Potts, defending Sulaj, said that the younger man was in a very similar situation to Haka and had “had his immigration and asylum documents taken away by controllers".

He added that Sulaj had been “vulnerable to exploitation” because of his illegal status but that unlike the 38-year-old Haka he was “reconciled to his deportation being an inevitability".

But Mr Potts said that Sulaj had also earned credit from his guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.

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Judge Abilgail Hudson acknowledged that Haka and Sulaj were likely to have been under the control of others when “gardening” the cannabis.

But addressing the pair, she reminded them of the scale of the farms they were tending.

Judge Hudson said: “So clearly it was a significant commercial operation and you must have been aware of that.”

She also noted that because of their illegal status, they would not be able to comply with probation orders.

Judge Hudson sentenced Haka to 14 months in prison and Sulaj to 12 months.

She told them that this would not impact on their immigration proceedings which will “take their own course".