Illegal immigrant jailed for growing cannabis in disused Valleys shop
7:01am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
AN ILLEGAL immigrant was jailed for growing hundreds of cannabis plants at a disused newsagents in the Valleys.
Lenh Le, 32, of Church Street, Ebbw Vale, arrived in the UK illegally in the back of a lorry and had been detained in Birmingham, before being offered £1,500 for a job by an unknown Vietnamese man, Newport Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor John Probert said that Le, who is Vietnamese, was given a ticket to South Wales where he was met by an Asian man and taken to a former newsagents in Church Street, Ebbw Vale.
There he discovered he was to look after a house full of cannabis plants, feeding, watering and propagating them.
Police executed a search warrant at the house on September 24 after members of the public reported a smell of cannabis emanating from the house. Inside they found cannabis plant saplings and drying cannabis leaves. Upstairs they found the defendant in a kitchen along with bedding where he had been sleeping.
The rest of the floor, divided into rooms using plasterboard lined with foil, was home to 107 cannabis plants almost at the cropping stage, while in the attic there were a further 90 plants.
In total they found 315 plants in the house and electrical wiring which illegally bypassed the meter.
Le was arrested and interviewed where it was discovered he spoke little English, but he said he had been in Ebbw Vale since July or August.
"The Border Agency didn't know about the defendant, but enquiries with the prison service custody officer today revealed that the defendant is subject to dual detention," said Mr Probert.
Judge Thomas Crowther said the set-up was a sophisticated commercial operation.
"Others took you under their malign wing," Judge Crowther told the defendant. "There is a danger in bypassing electricity and concern by members of the public about this invasion of residential communities by drug factories."
He sentenced Le to eight months in prison, of which he will serve half, but said that because Le is already subject to immigration detention, he may not be released.
He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and paraphernalia and a victim surcharge of £100.