A gang who “exploited” teenagers by using them to run a cannabis farm on the Fylde coast are on the run.
A 17-year-old, was sentenced to five years detention for his part in growing cannabis at a drugs factory in Fleetwood.
Police raided two flats on Poulton Road earlier this year, where they found 102 plants that had produced drugs with an estimated street value of £250,000.
Officers today vowed to hunt down the ringleaders.
The youth, of no fixed address, was one of three teenagers, all Vietnamese, to be charged after officers from the port’s neighbourhood policing team forced their way into the premises at around 3.40pm on June 13.
Speaking after the sentencing at Preston Crown Court, Insp Steve Bell, of Fleetwood Police, welcomed the sentence but sent out a warning to crime bosses who are sending youths to the port for the purpose of growing drugs.
He said: “This was quite a substantial grow but, to be fair, the individuals who have carried out these activities have been exploited.
“I think they have been used specifically to conduct cannabis growth and I feel they are vulnerable and have been used.
“This is a message to those individuals who think it is appropriate to grow cannabis: We will continue to identify who these individuals were working for.”
Police believe it is unlikely the teenager and his associates would have turned up in the area equipped to grow cannabis without help from an organised gang.
At a previous hearing, it emerged police believed the trio used the loft space to travel between the two premises
The court heard one of them did not leave the premises for a year.
It is believed the plants found by police had been harvested five times and would have produced drugs worth around £250,000.
The drugs were spread across six rooms in two flats above a wallpaper and paint shop in the port.
The teenager was charged with producing cannabis over a period of more than a year, from June 1, 2013 until June 13 this year.
He was sentenced to 60 months behind bars when he appeared at Preston Crown Court.