'Violent gangs' behind cannabis farms

PEOPLE running cannabis factories in Suffolk are often working for violent gangs who have helped smuggle them into the country, police have said.

Anthony Bond

PEOPLE running cannabis factories in Suffolk are often working for violent gangs who have helped smuggle them into the country, police have said.

Detectives admit there has been an increase in the number of cannabis factories found this year, which are often run by illegal immigrants from China or Vietnam.

The latest factory was found by police in Ipswich on Monday and 350 cannabis plants were seized.


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There are believed to have been more than 18 similar factories found in Suffolk this year. Figures released earlier this month showed more than 4,000 plants have been seized by police since April.

Police say the factories are often found in three to four bedroom semi-detached properties which are rented by gangs and housed by illegal immigrants who run them.

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Detective Inspector Steve Clabburn said: “We believe it is an organised system and the people we tend to arrest running these farms are people who are trying to pay off debts to gangs, perhaps for gaining entry into the country.

“But the gangs have very little to do with the addresses so it is difficult for us to get into the gangs and it tends to be the people at the address that we end up dealing with.

“Lots of the individuals at the properties are vulnerable and a lot are looking to come into the country and I feel quite certain that some of them are duped into coming in and looking after these cannabis factories.”

Although police admit there has been an increase in the number of cannabis factories found this year, they say it is not just a problem in Suffolk.

“I would imagine it is a similar situation across the country,” said Det Insp Clabburn. “With cannabis it is an easy way for the gangs to make money, I am sure the risks to them are a lot less than importing Class A drugs.”

Thau Nguyen, 38, a failed asylum seeker from Vietnam, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court yesterdayfollowing Monday's Ipswich raid. He admitted producing cannabis plants.

He ran the Kingfisher Avenue cannabis factory while on warrant from Blackfriars Crown Court for a similar offence. He will appear at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on a date to be confirmed.

Anyone who suspects a premises to be a cannabis factory should call police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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