Gang forced Vietnamese teen to grow drugs after arriving here, court told
GANG members forced a teenager to grow cannabis after he arrived in Derby looking to earn money to send to his sick father in Vietnam, a court was told.
Quang Nguyen asked a judge to deport him home to tend to his ill parent when his 20-month sentence finishes.
Derby Crown Court was told the 19-year-old came to the UK earlier this year "as an economic migrant, not one that was trafficked".
But upon arriving in Derby he was forced to grow cannabis at a rented house in Leacroft Road, Normanton, the court heard.
Members of the public alerted police officers to the address and a raid led to the discovery of more than 340 plants.
At Derby Crown Court, Will Bennett, representing Nguyen, said: "His father in Vietnam is ill with heart disease and Mr Nguyen came to this country as an economic migrant, not one that was trafficked to grow cannabis.
"But once here he was forced into criminality by a gang who told him he owed them a debt and needed to pay them back. They told him his family in Vietnam was at risk if he did not agree and he acquiesced to that pressure.
"He grew these drugs to pay off debts and knows that a custodial sentence is the outcome. He asks your honour that when that sentence is finished he is deported back to Vietnam to his family."
Alex Wolfson, prosecuting, said police went to the Normanton property on September 11 this year and found more than 340 cannabis plants growing inside.
He said: "The plants were divided into four areas. There were 77 in the cellar, 72 in a rear bedroom, 45 in another bedroom and 147 in the loft space.
"The electricity had been bypassed and 12 bottles of fertiliser were also found in the bathroom.
"For want of a better phrase, he is no 'Mr Big' but he is a cannabis gardener."
Judge Michael Fowler sentenced Nguyen to 20 months in a young offenders' institution and told him he would be deported back to Vietnam after serving half of his sentence.
Speaking after the hearing, PC John Anwar, who works at Pear Tree police station, said: "We were led to the property from intelligence we received from members of the public and we are pleased with the sentence the judge has passed.
"We think this sends out a strong message to the public that the police act on reports we receive from them."