FOUR men are behind bars after police raided a £900,000 cannabis factory in Stevenston.

Officers swooped on the unit at Stevenston Industrial Estate on April 4, 2023.

They discovered the premises had been converted into a sophisticated drug farm housing more than 3,000 cannabis plants.

Besmir Broshka, 36, was found trying to escape after police arrived.

Armend Krasniqi, 31, Drilon Gapi, 36, and Erando Jaupi, 33, were snared as they returned to the unit with bags of shopping while officers were still there.

The four Albanians appeared in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday, January 24.

Krasniqi, who the court was told, had a more central role in the crime, pleaded guilty to a charge of being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

The remaining three admitted taking part in the production of the drug.

READ MORE: Four men arrested in Stevenston after police raid discovers 'large scale cannabis cultivation' at industrial building 

The quartet were remanded in custody after appearing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court two days after the raid.

Judge Douglas Brown told them they would remain behind bars until they are sentenced.

Prosecutor Scott McKenzie told how the unit was situated in an area where "activity would largely go un-noticed".

But on April 4, police turned up to raid the premises and forced entry.

Officers discovered the unit had been split into different rooms with equipment rigged up to grow cannabis.

A total of 1,488 "mature" plants were seized, along with 1,775 seedlings.

Broshka, who lived at the site, initially tried to escape via a fire door.

Mr McKenzie continued: "The other three began to enter carrying large 'bags for life' full of shopping.

"The officers identified themselves. All three made efforts to flee."

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DNA for Broshka, Gapi and Jaupi was discovered on drinks cans found lying at the unit.

Krasniqi, meantime, was said to have been more involved in organising the rental of the unit, as well as work to be carried out at the factory and the maintenance of the cultivation.

There were also photos and videos of the cannabis found on a phone belonging to Krasniqi.

Mr McKenzie said the plants had a maximum potential value of around £901,000.

Three of the gang were described as "illegal entrants" into the UK.

The court was told Jaupi had claimed asylum, but it did not go any further due to a "lack of engagement" with the authorities.

Sentence was deferred until next month for background reports.