Vietnamese gang on the run after biggest drugs raid in 10 years

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 January 2013

Special Constable Daniel Sweet and PCSO Kie Booth bagging evidence.

Special Constable Daniel Sweet and PCSO Kie Booth bagging evidence.

Archant

A VIETNAMESE gang has gone on the run leaving behind an £844,000 cannabis factory – the biggest found in Weston in more than a decade.

Police raided number 1 Worthy Place and uncovered the massive stash of drugs on Thursday.

Officers are now working with the Immigration Service to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice.

A total of 884 cannabis plants were removed from the factory, which investigators value at upwards of £844,000.

Police say the intelligence received and acted upon came in after the Vietnamese group had left, but they strongly believe the gang was not only responsible for the Weston set-up, but is running more cannabis factories in other areas of the country.

PC Rich Grierson from North Somerset’s district targeting team, said: “Cannabis factories, especially ones on this scale, have a clear link with serious and organised crime.

“Essentially, the criminals operating it were set to make at least £844,000 from these plants alone.

“Our investigation is ongoing.

“We know the factory was being run by a Vietnamese crime group and are currently working with the Immigration Service to identify and locate those responsible.

“It was intelligence from the community that led us to the factory, and we would urge people to keep the information coming so we can continue to close them down.”

Weston has increasingly become a target for organised drug gangs, but a number have been caught and jailed in recent months.

In August, the last of 35 people charged with drug offences following months of undercover work were sentenced.

Together, the 35 criminals received a combined total of more than 85 years behind bars.

And in December, members of a Merseyside-based organised crime group were jailed for a combined 17 years after targeting Weston to deal class A drugs.

Next month, members of another drugs gang are due to be sentenced.

Anyone with information about potential cannabis factories in their area, or people they suspect of being involved in cannabis cultivation, should call the police non-emergency number on 101. Officers say the tell-tale signs of a cannabis factory include windows being permanently covered from the inside, visits to the premises at unusual times of the day or night and compost bags or gardening equipment left outside.

They say there could also be vents protruding through the roof or a rear window, strange, pungent smells from the premises or unusual noises from equipment such as cooling fans.


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