Illegal immigrant jailed over Welham Green cannabis factory

PUBLISHED: 16:24 20 September 2011 | UPDATED: 16:43 20 September 2011

An officer disposes of cannabis plants during the raid in 2010

An officer disposes of cannabis plants during the raid in 2010

Archant

BEHIND the front door of a 1950s-style bungalow in Welham Green, police discovered a shocking secret.

For the ordinary looking residential property was in fact home to a cannabis factory.

Rooms had been converted to grow hundreds of plants and a sophisticated operation was under way.

Who was behind the growing, police still have no idea, but on Monday the sole employee at the factory who was there to tend the young plants was jailed for 14 months.

Vietnamese illegal immigrant, Bang Van Tran, appeared St Albans Crown Court to plead guilty to producing a controlled Class B drug.

David Chrimes, prosecuting, told the court the illegal drugs factory had been installed at the bungalow in Dellsome Lane.

He said it was on February 3 last year when police officers on patrol passed by the house in their car and noticed the windows had been blacked out.

They pulled up outside the property and were then joined by colleagues.

Mr Chrimes said it was then the 43-year-old defendant was seen to make a dash from the rear of the house, climbing a fence into another back garden and making off.

Officers gave chase and found him hiding in a nearby pub.

The prosecutor said police entered the bungalow and found a fully operating cannabis factory in full production.

High-powered ultra-violet lights had been installed, walls and windows had been covered in plastic sheeting for insulation and fans were operating to keep the temperature cool.

A sophisticated hydroponics irrigation system had also been set up and plants were growing in three rooms.

Mr Chrimes described Tran as “the gardener” who had been recruited by others higher up the chain to tend the plants.

He lived in one room in the house and slept on a mattress.

The court was told the house had been rented out by someone else and the operation had been set up probably for the purpose of growing skunk.

Mr Chrimes added that in setting up the factory in the bungalow in the middle of a residential area, the culprits had caused £10,000 worth of damage to the property.

Passing sentence, Judge Stephen Warner told Tran: “You were the gardener in a cannabis factory set up in a residential area.

“That bungalow was almost entirely taken over by the operation.

“The Crown say you were the gardener, but you played a valuable and essential role in the cultivation of the plants.

Judge Warner told Tran he would likely be deported at the end of his jail sentence.


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