A MAN and a teenager have been jailed for their involvement in a huge cannabis factory which was found on a Carlisle industrial estate.
The city’s crown court heard how the owner of a commercial unit in the Durranhill area went with an electrician to make checks on July 6 after being alerted to power supply problems. He found a marquee had been erected within the unit comprising 10 separate rooms. Three contained a total of 1,172 cannabis plants in various stages of maturity while other rooms were supplied by ventilation and lighting which suggested the crop would not be a one-off.
“Police found a sophisticated and large cannabis production unit together with a living area including a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities,” said prosecutor Arthur Gibson. “It is estimated the potential yield would be in the region of 22kg with an estimated street value of £220,000.”
After the unit owner visited the nearby police station to raise the alarm, officers responded. On their way they saw 19-year-old Hung Ba Nguyen – who had been earlier seen at the unit – and he was arrested after trying to flee.
It emerged Nguyen had been put to work as a cannabis gardener for an increased wage after initially travelling to Carlisle on the promise of construction work.
A second man, Kashif Suleman, 43, was detained in London four days later with two phones and £8,000 cash. In debt to others, he had rented the unit through a local letting agency, paying three months’ rent of £12,000 up front for it from his business account having invented a cover story. His phone also contained web searches for news reports of Carlisle cannabis farm discoveries and researching how to grow the drug.
Suleman, of Lewin Road, London, and Nguyen – a Vietnamese national living in the UK illegally – both admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis. They were jailed today (MON) for 40 months and 12 months, respectively.
Recorder Katherine Pierpoint said: “This was a drug operation capable of producing significant quantities of cannabis for commercial use.”
The judge added: “Conspiracies only work if people are willing to rent units or water plants. Everybody plays a part in that serious criminal behaviour.”
Today’s sentencing comes just a month after two Albanian nationals were jailed for their illegal involvement in a three-storey £500,000 cannabis farm operation which had been set up in a former Whitehaven town centre post office.