A PAIR of cannabis growers who tended to more than 800 plants capable of producing ‘industrial quantities’ of the drug have been locked up.
Lam Mauyem, aged 51, and Hung Nguyen, 43, were recruited by a criminal gang to look after a huge cannabis-growing operation spread across seven rooms in an industrial unit on Wicker Lane, Sheffield.
Police searched the building and discovered 881 plants growing under 125 lighting units, which could have yielded just under 11 kilos of the Class B drug, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
The street value of cannabis in South Yorkshire is currently £10 per gram - meaning the enterprise could have produced more than £105,000 worth of drugs.
Mauyem and Nguyen were both illegal immigrants from Vietnam, the court heard, and told to act as ‘gardeners’ by gangsters who brought them into the UK.
But jailing them both for two years and eight months, Recorder Jane Rowley said: “You clearly knew what you were doing was illegal. This was an operation capable of producing industrial quantities for commercial use.”
Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said police forced their way into the building on July 5 this year, at around 9.40am.
Officers saw Mauyem and Nguyen trying to escape through an upstairs window, before running across the rooftops of neighbouring buildings.
They were chased by police and arrested soon afterwards.
“There were two floors and seven rooms within the premises were given over to the production of cannabis,” Mr Coxon said.
“In total, police recovered 881 cannabis plants, 125 lighting units, ventilation, ducting, fans and plastic sheeting.”
Mr Coxon said some of the plants were up to 56cm high, and each provided 12.2 grams of cannabis, giving a potential yield of 10.7kg.
Soil and debris was found on the floor, indicating previous crops had been harvested, and the electricity meter bypassed.
“There would be potential for between four to five crops on an annual basis,” Mr Coxon added.
In interview, Mauyem, a dad-of-two, said he arrived in the UK around two years ago and tended the cannabis in order to earn enough money to return to Vietnam.
Nguyen told officers he was in debt to the criminal gang by £10,000, and was told the sum would be reduced if he looked after the drugs.
Recorder Rowley said: “You both had a significant function, namely growing. In sentencing you, I cannot fail to reflect the sheer scale of this operation.”