DPP WARNS OF TOUGHER LINE ON CROP HOUSES – Tuesday March 12 2013

– Victoria’s director of Public Prosecutions has declared his intention to act severely against the organisers of large-scale, syndicate-based marijuana crop houses.
DPP John Champion, SC, has signalled the tougher stand by uplifting a case against a senior syndicate member to the Supreme Court.
Van Hung Nguyen, 41, had been committed to the County Court, but Mr Champion, with junior counsel Michelle Zammit, recently acted to move the prosecution to the higher jurisdiction.
The DPP can choose where to file an indictment and cases have been uplifted at the end of a committal hearing in the Magistrates Court. But Nguyen’s matter is unusual in that he was awaiting a County Court hearing when Mr a Champion acted.
When he appeared before Justice Elizabeth Curtain he pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating a large commercial quantity of marijuana. It has a maximum sentence of life Imprisonment.
Mr Champion said thee had been an increase in the prevalence of marijuana crop houses in Victoria in recent years.
Nguyen was arrested last April when 250 police raided properties across Brimbank, Melton, Wyndham and Hume in smashing one of Victoria’s largest cultivation syndicates with an estimated value of $29 million. The Age reported the seven-month investigation, code-named, Permute, had revealed an alleged organised crime syndicate with links to Vietnam.
It is believed Nguyen is the highest-ranking syndicate member yet caught in several unrelated operations in recent years that have targeted the lucrative hydroponic crop industry.
The charge, he has admitted, relates to offending from September 2011, and involves multiple houses and thousands of plants.
In Operation Entity, 43 people were arrested in November 2010 when hundreds of police executed dawn raids, seizing more than 8000 plants from 68 properties.
In prosecutions so far from Permute, all 14 offenders have received immediate jail terms.
Most of the defendants were found to be illegal immigrants who had overstayed student or travel visas and then had fallen into debt.
Judges have heard a familiar story how these vulnerable offenders fell prey to syndicate members and succumbed to financial offers to become crop sitters.
The Age reported in October that two Vietnamese refugees rescued by the Australian navy near Christmas Island later escaped from immigration detention in Victoria to cultivate a large crop in a suburban house.
Nguyen was remanded in custody to appear for a plea hearing in April – Steve Butcher

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Crimewave2014@gmail.com
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