AN ALBANIAN man has been jailed after becoming embroiled in a large-scale Oxford drug dealing operation so he could repay people smugglers who helped him into the country, a court heard.

Ergys Agia was sentenced to more than four years behind bars after police found him in possession of more than £6,000 of cocaine and £12,000 in cash when they searched his home in Rymers Lane, Cowley.

However, despite having come to play a ‘significant’ role in the drugs operation, Oxford Crown Court was told yesterday how the 28-year-old had been pressured by the criminal underworld to pay back a £10,000 debt owed to the gang who had arranged his secret passage to the UK.

The hearing heard how earlier this year Agia, who does not speak English, had been smuggled into the country in the back of a lorry before arriving in Oxford.

The gang had given him access to fake identification documents, two vehicles and huge amounts of cash.

Police were first alerted to Agia after documents found in another dealer’s car made reference to the Rymers Lane address.

When they arrived, Agia, going under the alias of ‘Tony Ataro’, answered the door.

Prosecuting for the crown, Kirsty Allman said officers immediately noticed the property was littered with a large amount of designer goods and a number of bank cards in other people’s names.

After a brief search of the house officers went on to find a total of £12,000 in cash, three golf ball sized wraps of cocaine hidden in Agia’s car in a Sports Direct holdall, as well as 24 ‘deal-sized’ wraps of cocaine.

There were also burner phones, ‘tick lists’, four sets of scales and a host of other drug dealing paraphernalia found at the Cowley home.

In interview, Agia claimed he had been at the property for three weeks, denying any knowledge of the cash and drugs.

But he would later plead guilty to charges of intent to supply cocaine, possession of criminal property and possessing false identity documents - namely an Italian driving licence in the name of Tony Ataro.

In mitigation, Agia’s solicitor, Richard Reynolds, said: “The only observations I have is that this is a man who was being exploited.”

He added: “The organisation and scale of those who were exploiting him - he was not aware of.

“He doesn’t speak more than one or two words of English, he quite clearly isn’t someone capable of managing an operation of that sort.”

Addressing Agia in the dock, sentencing judge Ian Pringle QC said: “Sometime earlier this year you came from Albania and got yourself into this country, being smuggled over in a lorry.

“You were told that would cost you £10,000 and so when you got to this country people put pressure on you to repay that debt.

“The pressure was that you were to deal drugs for them and that is what you did.”

He added: “I find that you were operating at a significant level in drug dealing and if you had disputed this matter I would have passed a sentence of five years at the end of a trial. However you plead guilty at the first available opportunity at this court and I’m going to give you credit for doing so.”

Agia was sentenced to a total of four years and two months in prison.