Sheffield Crown Court heard on December 6 how Ledjan Barjami, aged 22, of Josephine Road, Holmes, Rotherham - between Bradgate and Deepdale - admitted being a gardener for a cannabis harvest found by police at two neighbouring properties on Josephine Road.
Amy Earnshaw, prosecuting, said police had visited one of the properties following a report of a domestic incident, and after they had forced their way in they found a cannabis set-up which was linked to a similar set-up at a neighbouring property.
Judge Sarah Wright told Barjami: "You were involved in a professional, substantial cannabis grow over two premises. There were a substantial number of plants and appropriate growing equipment."
Ms Earnshaw said that both properties were linked by wiring and there were 177 cannabis plants over three floors at the first property and a further 136 cannabis plants were found at the second property.
Officers also found equipment related to cannabis production including high-wattage bulbs, transformers and timers.
Albanian national Barjami told police he had been living at one of the two properties for a couple of months.
He also told officers he had only been working as a gardener at the cannabis harvest to pay off the debt he had incurred as a result of coming to the UK illegally.
Ms Earnshaw said: “It is admitted the quantities found were capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use.”
Barjami, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to producing the class B drug cannabis between August and October, 2021.
Ms Earnshaw said there were reasonable grounds to believe Barjami had been a victim of trafficking but the defendant indicated he no longer wished others to pursue that part of the investigation.
Clarkson Baptiste, defending, said: "This gentleman is the victim of modern slavery. He has not availed himself of the opportunity to have the matter fully investigated."
Mr Baptiste added that Barjami had been performing a limited function under direction from others and he had no influence upon those above him in the criminal chain.
He added Barjami could have been confident that a full investigation would have found him to have been a “trafficked person”.
But Mr Baptiste said Barjami has already been remanded in custody and any further investigation might have meant that he could have expected to remain in custody for a long time.
Judge Wright told Barjami: "You told the police you were working there to pay off the debt accrued in bringing you illegally to this country."
She said: "Although you claimed to have been trafficked, you chose to come to this country illegally for a better life.
"I have no doubt that others more criminally sophisticated than you were running this operation and that you were performing a limited role working under pressure or coercion."
She added: "The message needs to go out that this sort of illegal behaviour will always result in a substantial prison sentence."
Judge Wright sentenced Barjami to 20 months of custody.