Man admits role in major cannabis crop

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:32 10/10/2012

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A Hornby man, born in Vietnam and staying in New Zealand illegally, has admitted being part of a criminal group that grew a huge amount of cannabis.

Van Chau Nguyen, pleaded guilty to the charge at Christchurch District Court today, on his 24th birthday.

Another man from Vietnam, and a 20-year-old property manager from Malaysia, were also arrested on the same charges in July and their cases are being dealt with separately by the courts.

Van Chau Nguyen gave his guilty pleas through a Vietnamese interpreter, to charges of cultivating cannabis and participating in an organised criminal group.

Judge Tony Couch then remanded him in custody for a Crown sentencing on December 6.

Defence counsel Ruth Buddicom did not seek his release on bail, and did not seek a report on his suitability for home detention.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Anna Lloyd said that the police began their Operation Carbon investigation in January into a large scale cannabis growing operation organised by a group of Asian men in Christchurch.

Van Chau Nguyen's home in Blankney Street, Hornby, was identified as an address where the cannabis plants were being grown.

Nguyen was identified buying cannabis growing equipment at four local businesses, and buying 175 sealable plastic bags at a supermarket.

Lloyd told of two of the accused being stopped by the police in a car with a shoebox containing $22,970 in cash.

A sophisticated indoor cannabis growing operation was found at the Hornby address.

Somebody with electrical knowledge had been involved in diverting power from the street supply.

There were four growing areas, and windows had been boxed out with a false wall with a light on a timer to make it seem as though the room was being used legitimately.

The growing rooms had plastic lining, irrigation systems, carbon air filters, and high intensity lighting.

Police found 527 cannabis plants growing there, and there was a similar operation at another address in Bishopdale where another of those arrested allegedly lived. They found 611 plants there.

Van Chau Nguyen gave no explanation for the offending. Police say he is in New Zealand illegally on an expired student visa.

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- The Press

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