Drug assets seizure nets just £20,000
A PALTRY £20,000 has been seized from criminals who ran a cannabis growing operation worth as much as £1.5million.Ha Phu Bui, Anh Hai Bui and Phuong Thi Vu were all jailed for their part in an illegal operation that saw masses of cannabis grown at three addresses in Ipswich.
A PALTRY £20,000 has been seized from criminals who ran a cannabis growing operation worth as much as £1.5million.
Ha Phu Bui, Anh Hai Bui and Phuong Thi Vu were all jailed for their part in an illegal operation that saw masses of cannabis grown at three addresses in Ipswich.
During their trial this year the court heard that the enterprise, run from addresses in London Road, Clarkson Street and North Road, led to huge amounts of cash being splashed on luxury cars, top of the range TVs and a large deposit on a house.
However a bid by police and the Crown Prosecution Service to reclaim cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act has proved less than lucrative.
An application to seize up to £300,000 in assets from Ha Phu Bui, 27, had to be dismissed by a judge because the claim was not made quickly enough, rendering the application “time-barred”.
Meanwhile a total of just £20,410 was seized from Anh Hai Bui, 34, and Phuong Ti Vu.
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Judge Peter Thompson described the failure to proceed with the confiscation of assets from Ha Phu Bui as an “error” by the CPS although Lindsay Cox, prosecuting, said there may still be the opportunity for another agency to pursue the claim - however it appears Suffolk has missed out on the money.
Mr Cox said the case would be passed to the Assets Recovery Agency.
“If all goes to plan the money will go into a national pot rather than a Suffolk pot,” he said.
The court heard that Ha Phu Bui's brother, Anh Hai Bui, was estimated to have benefited from the criminal enterprise by £131,942 but had only £12,142 available to be seized in the form of a car, a wrist watch and the balance of his bank account.
Meanwhile the court heard that Phuong Thi Vu, who has been released on licence after being jailed for 21 months back in March, had benefited from the cannabis operation by £8,268.
That money will be raised through the sale of a car seized by police following her arrest.
A spokeswoman for the CPS said despite only £20,410 being seized, the amount represented what the defendants made from the operation.
She said: “The CPS did not incur any difficulties processing the proceeds of crime application. This application was made for only a share of the previously estimated £1.5m as this is what was deemed to represent the defendant's actual benefit from this operation.”
She added that it was not possible to proceed with an application against Ha Phu Bui because too much time had passed.
“As a result of the date of the offence and the period that had elapsed between the date of conviction, and the date of the confiscation hearing it was not possible to proceed with the application for confiscation of assets at the crown court,” she said.
Case in summary:
VIETNAMESE nationals Anh Hai Bui, his sister Ha Phu Bui as well as Phuong Thi Vu, Tham Thi Hoang and Tranh Tran were involved in growing as much as £1.5m of cannabis at houses in Clarkson Street, London Road and Norwich Road.
The gang was jailed for a total of 14 years.
Although Ha Phu Bui was not convicted of growing the cannabis, she was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of making money from crime and jailed for four years.
Tham Thi Hoang and Tranh Tran were sentenced to 18 months in prison, Thi Vu was jailed for 21 months and Anh Hai Bui was imprisoned for five years.
Ha Phu Bui: Application dismissed
Phuong Ti Vu: £8,268.87
Anh Hai Bui: £12,142.01