– Vietnamese crime gangs are bringing peasants from Asia to operate high tech cannabis “grow houses” in suburban Melbourne in a burgeoning drug racket.
Victoria Police figures released to the ‘Sunday Herald Sun’ reveal almost 50% of people charged with growing marijuana on a commercial scale are Vietnamese.
Organised criminals are using standover tactics to recruit poor Vietnamese illegal immigrants to act as sitters in suburban ‘grow houses’, paying them as little as $50 a week to watch the plants.
Members of the Vietnamese community in Australia – many who have overstayed visas or incurred gambling debts – are also lured into tending plants.
Police estimate each grow house can make $2 million a year, and many syndicates control dozens at a time.
So great are the profits that gangs will buy new houses in outer-suburban estates in which to grow the crops and then splurge another $30,000 on dozens of high-powered lights and industrial-scale charcoal filters to nurture the plants.
The ruthless gangs then use the profits from the ‘easy money’ grow houses to buy and import amphetamines from Vietnam and sell them on Australian streets.
But despite the profits, gangs still hire ‘black market electricians’ to bypass the mains power and steal thousands of dollars worth of electricity.
The Australian Crime Commission chief executive John Lawler told the ‘Sunday Herald Sun’: “Indoor cultivation of cannabis has increased over the past five years in a number of jurisdictions.”
Detective Inspector Pat O’Brien, of Victoria Police’s Drug Squad, said much of the state’s cannabis trade had links to international crime gangs.
In a recent bust, three Vietnamese nationals were charged after police found 3000 plants at 21 different addresses.
One man charged had been in Australia only four days.
Police alleged the syndicate spent about $660,000 equipping 21 homes and all had newspapers and items with Vietnamese writing in them.
Speaking after last month’s bust Inspector Richard Read said he believed his officers just scratched the surface.
Figures given to the Sunday Herald Sun show that 348 people charged with cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis from July 2007 to June 2012, 164 were Vietnamese. In the last financial year, 71 Vietnamese nationals were charged.
Mr Lawler said: “Members of outlaw motorcycle gangs are also represented.” – James Dowling


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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