Comber in Northern Ireland where the marijuana farm was found. Photo: Google Maps

A gardener who worked at a cannabis factory in Northern Ireland told a court he had been smuggled into the country from Vietnam.

The 23-year-old gardener – who was unnamed due to safety reasons – was said to have been working and residing at a warehouse in Comber, Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph reported. When police raided the factory, 600,000 pounds (US$759,532) worth of drugs was found.

The judge was told the gardener would be interviewed by the Northern Irish police’s modern slavery unit in January to determine if his claims hold any truth.

Lawyer Mark Farrell said the gardener was arrested at the factory, where he lived and also fed and watered the cannabis plants. Secretly recorded footage shows the gardener being delivered to the factory by people who seemed to be in charge of the operation.

The gardener gave the court information about the people running the factory, a combination of Europeans and Vietnamese nationals involved in drug production.

Charges of producing, cultivating and possessing cannabis with intent to supply were laid against the 23-year-old. While police doubt his claims of being enslaved, the Home Office has said his claims may not be baseless.

The prosecution opposed bail, stating that the defendant may flee.

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