Farmer jailed after town cannabis raid

Macclesfield Express - - BARLOW’S BRIEF - KAREN BRIT­TON

AVIETNAMESE farmer has been jailed for his role in a cannabis farm worth up to £820,000 that was found on Ch­ester­gate.

Hung Tran, 23, trav­elled nearly 6,000 miles from Viet­nam to try and find work in the UK, Ch­ester Crown Court heard.

He ended up in Mac­cles­field after be­ing taken to a build­ing on Ch­ester- gate which had pre­vi­ously been used by the Rap­ture shop to look after a cannabis farm up­stairs.

The de­fen­dant, of no fixed abode, was in the prop­erty when po­lice raided it on Wed­nes­day, May 7 after re­ports of a strong smell of cannabis com­ing from the build­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tor Si­mon Parry told the hear­ing that of­fi­cers found more than 700 plants be­ing grown over two floors.

The crops grow­ing and oth­ers which had al­ready been har­vested were said to be worth be­tween £677,000 and £823,000, the court heard.

The op­er­a­tion had fans and lamps op­er­at­ing day and night us­ing elec­tric­ity stolen from neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties, which had a value of £42,000.

Mr Parry said: “Of­fi­cers dis­cov­ered a sub­stan­tial cannabis fac­tory. Elec­tric­ity had been by­passed, in suf­fi­cient amounts to be po­ten­tially lethal.

“All those inside were ar­rested. Two men fled through the rear and were caught by of­fi­cers, one was Tran.

“He had been brought to the ad­dress by a Western male to look after the prop­erty.”

Tran, who pleaded guilty to pro­duc­ing cannabis at an ear­lier hear­ing, was sentenced to ten months in prison.

The de­fen­dant has been in prison since his ar­rest in May and could be deported be­fore his sen­tence is up, the court was told.

De­fend­ing Tran, Roger Bad­man said: “He was only in the premises for two nights, the op­er­a­tion had been set up for some con­sid­er­able time. It’s a sad case.”

He said that Tran had been held cap­tive at one point since leav­ing Viet­nam but had es­caped.

But Mr Bad­man said there was no sug­ges­tion he was un­able to leave the drugs farm.

He added: “He’s a young man of pre­vi­ous good character and is very anx­ious to re­turn to Viet­nam.”

Judge Roger Dut­ton said Tran was a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of a far east Asian gar­dener brought in to keep the plants grow­ing.

He said: “You played an im­por­tant role in this large com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion.

“You have a very sad back­ground.

“You came here from a tor­tu­ous route to the UK and have no sta­tus in this coun­try. I’m quite cer­tain this has been an aw­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for you.”

●● Po­lice clear cannabis plants from the scene

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