Five jailed as part of major investigation into cannabis production and human trafficking across East Lancashire

Five people have been sentenced as part of a major investigation into cannabis production and human trafficking in East Lancashire.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 11:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 11:10 am

On October 29, 2019, officers from the East Exploitation Team executed a warrant at a property in Rutland Street, Nelson, and, after persuading defendant Dang Bui to come down off the roof, uncovered a large cannabis farm.

When officers spoke to Bui he described how he had been trafficked into the country, forced to work as a ‘cannabis gardener’ in the property and subjected to extreme violence when he tried to escape.

Bui was taken to a place of safety but absconded and was later found in the company of co-defendant Dieu Van Le – a man who was running a ‘family business’ producing cannabis alongside his partner Huong Mai Thi Dau and their child Thuong Ha.

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Ha Van Lee, of Spencer Street, Burnley

Evidence obtained as a result of the warrant executed in Rutland Street led officers to search properties in Cumberland Street, Nelson, and Newport Street in Nelson – where they found another cannabis farms and a blood stained mattress.

Further enquiries led officers to search a property in Manor Street, Nelson, where officers found another cannabis set-up and a Vietnamese child. He was safeguarded.

As the investigation progressed, officers viewed CCTV seized from Rutland Avenue which showed Dieu Van Le arriving in a Volkswagen Touran and meeting another man linked to the investigation.

The Touran was tracked to Plodder Lane in Bolton. Searches of a nearby property resulted in the seizure of specialised equipment used to cultivate cannabis and £3,000 cash.

Eight adults were found in or trying to leave the property, including Dieu Van Le, Ha, and Dau.

Bui and co-defendant Dat Trong Le - who were willingly working as cannabis gardeners as part of the conspiracy - were two of four men discovered at that address who had no legal right to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

Evidence found in the Plodder Lane property linked Ha to an address in Dalkeith Road, Nelson, where officers found cash, cannabis bush, five CS gas sprays, and a stun gun.

Although unoccupied at that time there was evidence people had been living there.

On November 4, 2019, officers searched an address in Spencer Street, Burnley, where they found more 200 cannabis plants and evidence the electricity meter had been bypassed.

Trying to leave that address when officers arrived was defendant Ha Van Lee.

As part of their enquiries officers also searched a property in Peabody Street, Bolton, and although no cannabis plants were found other equipment used in the drug’s cultivation was discovered.

Ha, 22, Dieu Van Le, 40, and Dau, 47 – all of Plodder Lane, Bolton – were convicted of conspiring to supply cannabis and assisting unlawful immigration.

Dat Le, 23, of Plodder Lane, Bolton; Bui, 46, of Plodder Lane, Bolton; and Ha Van Le, of Spencer Street, Burnley, were convicted of conspiring to supply cannabis.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court yesterday, Van Le was jailed for six years and eight months, Ha was jailed for three years and nine months, Dat Le was jailed for two years and 10 months, Bui was jailed for two years and five months and Van Le was jailed for two years and four months.

Dau will be sentenced on June 24th.

Det Sgt Stu Peall, of the East Exploitation Team, said: “This was a complex investigation which has resulted in five people who thought they could break the law for their own financial gain being sent to prison. Organised criminal gangs, such as this one, exploit the most vulnerable members of society and bring violence and misery to the communities in which they operate in.

“I welcome the sentences handed down by the Judge and I hope they send out a clear message to anybody who looks to come into Lancashire to commit crime that the police will shut down your illegal operation and put you before the courts.”

To report a crime in your area call 101 or via the website at https://doitonline.lancashire.police.uk. In an emergency or if the crime is ongoing call 999.