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Men who helped to run East Lancashire cannabis farms jailed

Two men who helped to operate a large cannabis and human trafficking operation across Bolton and East Lancashire have been jailed for a total of 10 years.

Thuong Ha, 22, and Dieu Le, 38, both from Vietnam, trafficked illegal immigrants through their home in Plodder Lane, Farnworth, in 2019 before police raided the property on October 29 that year.

A house in Peabody Street, Bolton, and properties across Nelson were also raided. Cannabis farms were found along with large amounts of cash.

Around 700 plants were found across these sites with a street value of up to £155,000.

Prosecuting, Joseph Allman, said Le, who had no right to remain in the country, was the “hub” of the conspiracy, “directing” Ha and others as well as keeping in contact with everyone else involved by phone.

He was in charge of letting the properties used by the criminal group through different agents, under a false passport, and fled from his Plodder Lane home barefoot when the police moved in.

“It was he (Le) along with Ha who housed the individuals who were found in Plodder Lane, permitting them to live there as a transit point to join the cannabis farms and exploiting them,” Mr Allman added.

“Le directed Ha send money to Vietnam and to go to Scotland to get cash and deliver cannabis in return.”

He was said to be organising the production on a “commercial scale”.

Ha “provided cover” and was a “trusted lieutenant” for Le, Mr Allman said, having first come to the country as a student but was found living at Plodder Lane when police raided the house.

Ha delivered drugs and collected cash as well as maintaining tenancies to give them “legitimacy”.

Defending Ha, Anthony Stephenson, said he was an intelligent man who had just completed his first year of university.

He said he was “still a relatively young man living in a foreign country and who relied on those around him to get on”.

Mr Stephenson also argued that Ha did not play as significant a role in the conspiracy than Le.

Judge Simon Newell sentenced Le to 80 months in jail for the cannabis production and immigration offences with Ha given 45 months.

The sentencing of another defendant was adjourned to next week.