Ipswich: It’s payback time for drug factory boss

IPSWICH: Phu Ha Bui enjoyed indulging her love of the high-life during her involvement with three cannabis factories.

Today, however, Bui is nearly �300,000 poorer after losing a three-year legal battle to repay the money she made from organised crime.

The 30-year-old was part of a gang which set up cannabis factories in Clarkson Street, London Road and Norwich Road, Ipswich. The thousands of pounds that came her way enabled Bui to splash huge amounts of cash on luxury cars, top-of-the-range TVs and also put down a large deposit on a house.

But now law enforcement agencies have clawed back those ill-gotten gains.

Andy Gould, from Suffolk Constabulary’s financial investigation unit, said: “A civil recovery order was made in the High Court to get assets which subsequently realised around �281,000.

“This will culminate in 25 per cent of the money raised being returned to Suffolk Constabulary where it will be used in the continuing fight against organised crime.

“The granting of this Civil Recovery Order in the High Court marks the culmination of a painstaking Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation into what was an organised criminal gang who were operating within the community.

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“The order ensures that the gang are finally stripped of the criminal wealth they had amassed. It once again reinforces the message that Suffolk Constabulary and its partner agencies will ensure crime does not pay.”

Bui, of Ipswich Road, Colchester, was jailed for four years after being convicted at Ipswich Crown Court in February 2007 of making money from crime. A second charge of conspiracy to cultivate cannabis was left to lie on file.

At one stage, it looked as if Bui would be able to get away without paying back the money, after a previous application under the Proceeds of Crime Act was dismissed by a judge because it was not made quickly enough.

Bui’s brother Anh Hai Bui, 34, was convicted of cultivating cannabis at the 2007 trial.

Three other Vietnamese nationals, Phuong Thi Vu, Tham Thi Hoang, and Thanh Tran, all pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Hoang and Tran were jailed for 18 months, Vu was imprisoned for 21 months and Anh Hai Bui received a five-year jail term.

A total of �20,410 was previously seized from Vu and Anh Hai Bui.

The cannabis factories were found after the London Road property was raided by police in May 2006.

Is it right to claw back money from criminals? E-mail eveningstar letters@eveningstar.co.uk or write to Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.