Two illegal immigrants who were forced to work as “gardeners” in a cannabis factory have been jailed for 32 months.
Chong Cheng, 33, and Xian Hu, 38, both admitted producing the drug in southern Scotland earlier this year.
Dumfries Sheriff Court was told they had been smuggled into the UK and put to work in “horrendous” conditions on the industrial estate in Ecclefechan.
The court heard one man felt “relief bordering on joy” when police raided the unit, described as a “death trap”.
Sheriff George Jamieson gave jail terms to both men and also recommended them for deportation.
They had previously admitted producing cannabis between March and May this year at the Broadmeadow Industrial Estate.
The court heard how the pair were found in the roof space of a converted unit.
Also inside the building was a crop of 1,354 plants which could have produced drugs with an estimated street value of about £750,000.
Depute procurator fiscal Pamela Rhodes told the court the factory had been uncovered after investigations into power problems at nearby buildings.
The windows and doors had been boarded up from the inside, power meters had been bypassed and the plants were put under powerful lights.
She said: “It was a professional set-up which would have cost up to £50,000 to put into operation.”
When interviewed by police, both men admitted they had paid several thousand pounds to be smuggled into the UK from China by organised gangs.
However, when they arrived they had been forced to undertake work to pay off the debt.
Solicitors for both men said they had been used by “unscrupulous” contacts to look after the cannabis plants.
Conditions in the unit were described as “horrendous” and the men had to remain inside the factory with no daylight coming in and the temperature kept constantly high.
Supplies were delivered, but the two men were undernourished when they were found.
One solicitor said his client felt “relief bordering on joy” when police raided the factory.
He added that officers described the building as a “death trap” due to the electricity supply having been tampered with.