Cannabis growers jailed

TWO men left to tend Ipswich cannabis factories for organised crime gangs are serving a total of five-and-a-half years in prison today.

Colin Adwent

TWO men left to tend Ipswich cannabis factories for organised crime gangs are serving a total of five-and-a-half years in prison today.

Thau Nguyen, who was already on the run from police when drug squad officers raided a house in Chantry's Kingfisher Avenue, has been jailed for four years.

His compatriot, Phong Van Tran, was led sobbing from the dock at Ipswich Crown Court after being given 18 months in jail for growing a drug crop in Jovian Way, off Bramford Road. The illegal immigrant was hanging from a skylight when police caught him.

Both men had previously pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis. Despite being caught in raids less than one week apart, the court heard neither man knew the other.

Nguyen had been one of Kent Constabulary's 20 most wanted criminals after he skipped bail before sentencing at Blackfriars Crown Court in December 2004.

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He had also been charged with cultivating cannabis on that occasion and was last known to be living in Woolwich prior to his Ipswich arrest.

Nguyen had also been suspected of involvement in two other cannabis factories in Brighton and Brightlingsea after his fingerprints were found on objects in them.

However, neither of the objects were involved in the production of cannabis and no further action was taken against him.

Prosecutor Michael Crimp said drug squad officers found 366 skunk plants, when they raided the house in Kingfisher Way on December 29 last year. The plants had a maximum yield of anything up to �290,000.

Nguyen had been living at the house for six months and was being paid �200 per month with his board thrown in free.

He told police that three months after moving in, two men he described as 'gangsters' told him he had to set up a cannabis factory.

Meanwhile, Tran was caught when police carried out a drug warrant in Jovian Way on December 23 last year and found 158 plants with a maximum yield of �175,000. A further 115 smaller plants were found being grown in trays.

Tran said he had arrived in the country illegally 15 days before his arrest and his job was to look after the plants. He claimed he did not know what he was doing was illegal.

Judge Peter Thompson jailed Nguyen for 18 months relating to the Kent cannabis factory and a further two-and-a-half years for the one in Ipswich.

Both men will automatically be deported back to North Vietnam after finishing their sentences.

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