Mobile phones seized from Jetmir Metushi showed he was involved in finding suitable properties and supplying the necessary plants and growing materials as well as arranging for people to work in the cannabis growing operation and giving them technical advice.
Leeds Crown Court heard how he was arrested near a property in Wetherby Road, Leeds, which was raided by police on September 5, 2021.
Inside were 402 cannabis plants ready for harvest, with an estimated street value of nearly £200,000 if sold to individual drug users.
Metushi appeared via video link from HMP Leeds alongside fellow Albanian national Aleks Gjini, who acted as the gardener for the Wetherby Road farm.
Prosecutor David Povall said Gjini was spotted by police as he approached the address and was found to have a set of keys after he tried to run away from officers.
He was carrying £265 in cash, while a further £2,950 was found at a property in south Wales to which he was linked. The court heard that Gjini maintained the larger sum did not belong to him and others had access to the address.
Metushi, 30, of Chapel Wood, Pentwyn, Cardiff, admitted abstracting electricity, possessing criminal property and two counts of producing cannabis.
One of the counts of producing cannabis related to activities at a property in Cowper Terrace, Harehills, which was raided by police on June 1, 2020.
Officers found 73 plants spread across three growing rooms as well as ducting, lighting and a set-up to bypass the electricity meter.
DNA found on a beer can and cigarette ends was found to be a match for Metushi.
Jonathan Turner, mitigating, said Metushi was trafficked into the UK after being promised that he would earn enough to repay the £20,000 fee within weeks.
He worked in construction for two years but was laid off during the pandemic and acted as the gardener of the Cowper Terrace cannabis farm in order to keep repaying his debt.
Mr Turner said Metushi became trusted by those above him and was given more responsibility, which led to his involvement in the second cannabis farm.
The money he was carrying at the time of his arrest was a combination of his own pay and that of others, he added.
Gjini, 32, of Treharne Street, Pentre, south Wales, admitted producing cannabis.
Howard Shaw, mitigating, said his client had worked in agriculture in Albania, where his wife and two children still live.
He had arrived in the UK illegally just a few months before his arrest and was recruited to work at the Wetherby Road cannabis farm by another Albanian man.
Jailing Metushi for five years, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC noted his crimes had been "professional and sophisticated" sentences at two separate addresses over a period of 15 months.
He sentenced Gjini to 2.5 years in prison, telling him that this reflected his responsibility for the property's security and his understanding of the scale of the operation.
Judge Marson also ordered the destruction of the drugs and equipment seized, and the forfeiture of the cash seized during the investigations.