Illegal immigrants jailed for drug den at Barnoldby-le-Beck mansion
TWO men who were secretly smuggled into Britain have been jailed after they were caught looking after a cannabis farm which could have produced drugs worth about £113,000.
The pair, both from Vietnam, were each locked up for two-and-a-half years for their role in a "sophisticated, significant criminal enterprise" at Barnoldby-le-Beck.
Khoa Hoang and his helper, Tuan Ho, both admitted producing cannabis on January 13.
Craig Lowe, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that police raided the premises at Beckside, Waltham Road, Barnoldby-le-Beck, and found the men hiding inside.
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A cannabis farm was found in several rooms of the first floor.
It included 161 cannabis plants, 178 seedlings and 136 root balls. The potential value of the crops was £113,280.
Adam Pearson, mitigating, said Hoang entered Britain illegally from France and claimed he wanted to earn money on the black market to provide for his wife and child in Vietnam. He moved from this to something much more serious.
"Those who make money – and significant sums of money – from these sorts of enterprises are sufficiently clever to keep away," claimed Mr Pearson. "It's men like Hoang and Ho who find themselves arrested.
"He was to be paid once his task was done but he was arrested before the job was complete. He came out of this with nothing but time in prison to show for it."
Richard Hackfath, representing Ho, said the illegal immigrant arrived in Britain in a shipping container and claimed he did not even know which country he was in. He owed a large amount of money to the gang which smuggled him in.
He went to London and was offered the chance to be brought to North East Lincolnshire to work. He took that chance and claimed he discovered later that the work, growing and tending cannabis plants, was illegal.
"He did not feel able to turn tail and walk away," said Mr Hackfath.
Ho came from a family of poor farmers who grew rice at just above subsistence level in Vietnam and claimed he wanted to send money home. He claimed he received just £95 pocket money for looking after the cannabis.
Both men had been in custody for 95 days.
Judge David Tremberg told the pair: "Even before your arrival in the UK, each of you demonstrated a thorough contempt for the laws of this country because you each came in illegally, seeking financial advantage.
"You turned your attention, and you loaned your assistance, to a sophisticated, significant, criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to produce cannabis on a significant commercial scale.
"You clearly had some knowledge of the scale of the operation and you were clearly motivated by the hope of advantage, financial or otherwise. What you did is so serious that only a significant custodial sentence is appropriate for it, not simply to punish you but to deter others.
"You were, in essence, foot soldiers and gardeners within this sophisticated operation."
The court heard that the two men would qualify for automatic deportation after they had served up to half of their sentences. Their ages are not known for certain but Ho is believed to be 21.
The house is believed to have been rented out at the time, and has since been sold to a new owner.