Heybridge: Men jailed for running biggest cannabis factory in Essex

FOUR men have been jailed for a total of more than 16 years for running one of the biggest cannabis factories ever found in Essex.

The factory, which was growing 8,000 plants with a potential street value of �2 million, was found when police searched a disused commercial building in Hall Road, Heybridge, near Maldon, in November.

Police arrested four men, all Vietnamese nationals, who were found to be looking after the crop of cannabis which was growing in a series of wooden growing rooms inside a former printing works.

All four men admitted producing cannabis between July and November 2010 and were sentenced when they appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday.

Ho Vu Phong 23, was jailed for four years and eight months, Tran Hung Van, 44 and Le Tuan Van 40, were both jailed for four years and Doan Nguyen Hai, 18, was jailed for three years and eight months. All four had been of no fixed address at the time of their arrests.

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Senior investigating officer, DCI Simon Parkes, of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “These men were involved in the day-to-day running of one of the biggest, and certainly the most sophisticated, cannabis factories ever found in Essex.

“They were working full time and in complete secrecy in a former printing works to cultivate cannabis plants in various stages of growth. They had a potential street value of around �2 million when fully grown.

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“We estimate that the people who set up this site had invested more than �250,000 on this factory but their plans to cash in on the drugs black market were thwarted following some excellent surveillance and detective work by a team of locally based officers.

“There is an ongoing investigation by officers from Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate who continue to be actively involved in identifying other premises and, crucially, those responsible for the financing and management of such organisations.

“Essex Police continues to urge residents, landlords or estate agents to watch for the tell-tale signs that a house, former offices or disused large industrial units are being used a cannabis factory and report their suspicions to local officers immediately.”

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