A DRUG supplier who was involved in a major cannabis factory operation in Greenock town centre is today beginning a three-year prison sentence.

Bledjan Buci, 29 - who was arrested as part of the intelligence-led operation - pleaded guilty to a total of three serious and organised crime indictment charges at the sheriff court.

Police raided a former office building on Nicolson Street following a New Year's Day tip-off and officers seized a haul of marijuana plants with an estimated street value of around £163,000.

Greenock Telegraph: Police at the scene of the drugs bust in January 2023Police at the scene of the drugs bust in January 2023 (Image: NQ)

Buci, of no known address, appeared in court in handcuffs for sentencing and was told that a prison term was the only appropriate disposal for his case.

The Albanian national accepted charges of being concerned in the supplying of a controlled drug, producing a controlled drug, and tampering with an electricity meter in January last year.

Buci lied in a background report prepared for the court hearing that his life was under threat and that he was forced to participate in the criminal scheme.

READ MORE: Two men charged after police swoop on care home cannabis factory in Greenock

His lawyer asked Sheriff James Varney to dismiss the untruthful claims because they were 'inaccurate'.

The defence agent added: "He accepts there was an element of pressure placed on him in order to pay back a debt, however, he accepts that he made the choice to become involved.

"His reason for coming to the UK in the first place was to try to earn some money to assist his mother who was in poor health in Albania.

Greenock Telegraph: Police at the scene of the drugs bust on Nicolson Street in January 2023Police at the scene of the drugs bust on Nicolson Street in January 2023 (Image: NQ)

"He accepts that only a significant custodial sentence is appropriate."

The lawyer said Buci's role in the operation 'was agreed as a gardener for a period of one day'.

Sheriff James Varney said he was 'just satisfied' that he did not have to remit the case to the High Court for sentencing.

READ MORE: Men in court charged with drug offences after £3.6 million cannabis recovery

The sheriff told Buci: "You have pleaded guilty to a very serious indictment, three very serious offences on the indictment, the worst of which included the cultivation, production and supply of drugs.

"Parts of the criminal justice social work report make for very concerning reading, particularly in relation to your own background and your journey to this country.

"The court cannot condone this type of behaviour in any form.

Greenock Telegraph: Cannabis plants worth around £163,000 were recoveredCannabis plants worth around £163,000 were recovered (Image: NQ)

"You have no previous convictions in this country and it seems you have not been to prison before.

"I have no doubt this sentence will be a personal catastrophe for you."

Sheriff Varney said that the total potential value of the drugs meant that no other disposal other than a custodial sentence would be appropriate.

Buci was sentenced to 36 months in prison, reduced from 54 months due to his guilty pleas, and backdated to January 3, 2023.