Gang who set up Burscough cannabis farm jailed for 35 years

Members of a Vietnamese gang which made hundreds of thousands of pounds in a sophisticated cannabis farm operation operating across the north west have been jailed for over 35 years.

The gang used false identities and fraudulent documents to rent dozens of properties before turning them into cannabis farms. ‘Gardeners’ would then be employed to visit the houses and tend the crops.

The enterprise was overseen by Jack Nguyen and Trang Nguyen assisted by Hoai Nguyen and Thanh Thi Nguyen, Jack’s girlfriend. They rented the properties and made themselves attractive to potential landlords by posing as a couple with a baby on the way or with a new born child. They tried to avoid leaving a trail of evidence by using false names and false documentation and always paid deposits in cash.

21 properties were rented across the region, including in Liverpool, Preston, Blackpool, Burscough and Oswaldtwistle, and used as cannabis farms or rented with a view to that use.

When Lancashire Constabulary executed warrants in March 2018 as part of their investigation – codenamed Operation Renard – they recovered cannabis valued at just under a million pounds and a quarter of a million pounds in cash.

A total of sixteen members of the gang were jailed at Preston Crown Court (details below):

DS Stu Peall, from the East Exploitation Team, said: “I welcome these sentences which reflect the serious nature of the offending. This was a sophisticated organised criminal group making huge amounts of money from their operation which stretched across the north west of England.

“Many defendants claimed to be trafficked and some claiming to be children, all of these defences were proved to be lies and simply just a tactic used to avoid detection.

“I would like to thank the jury for their careful consideration of this case, and the Crown Prosecution Service, in particular Nicky Moore, Karen Brooks and barrister Jeremy Grout Smith.

“Lancashire Constabulary will continue to proactively target the production of cannabis which can have lasting physical and mental health effects on users as well as having a negative effect on our communities and fuelling other crime and we are determined to tackle that.

“We need the public to continue to work with us to help us tackle drug crime by informing us of any suspicious activity.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner added: “I hope this sends a clear message to those who are getting involved in drug crime that the police have the resources, skills and determination to crack criminal gangs like this and bring their members to justice.

“These people were responsible for running a huge criminal operation across Lancashire and beyond and I want to pay tribute to the hard work and determination of Lancashire investigators that have helped bring these people to justice. No stone is left unturned in stopping criminal gangs and tackling serious and organised crime – a key part of my Police and Crime Plan.”

Here are the sentences:

1) Jack Nguyen, 28, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and money laundering. Jailed for seven years and four months.

2) Trang Huong Nguyen, aka Annie, 28, of Berry Street, Liverpool. Convicted of Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for three years and nine months.

3) Hoai Nguyen, 18, of Wellington Road, Manchester. Pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering. Jailed for one year and six months.

4) Thang Van Nguyen, 34, of Pall Mall, Liverpool. Pleaded guilty to money laundering. Jailed for one year and five months.

5) Thanh Thi Nguyen, 21, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Admitted Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and money laundering. Jailed for three years and nine months.

6) Thuong Hoai Vu, 24, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Admitted Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for two years.

7) Kim Thien Tran, 30, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Admitted Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for two years and four months.

8) Toan Vo, 31, of Westminster Road, Birmingham. Admitted Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for three years and four months.

9) Duoc Tran, 33, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Convicted of Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year and four months.

10) Khai Quoc Tran, 36, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Convicted of Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year and six months.

11) Huy Hoang Nguyen, 19, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Convicted of Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for eight months.

12) Hoi Thi Nguyen, 40, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year and four months.

13) Giap Nguyen, 34, of April Grove, Liverpool. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year and four months.

14) Thang Nguyen, 67, of Webster Avenue, Bootle. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year and four months.

15) Dong Ho, 32, of Sharrow Grove, Blackpool. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for one year.

16) Anh Van Nguyen, 19, of Lonsdale Road, Blackpool. Pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis. Jailed for ten months.

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