Upmarket home hid drug plants

CLUED-up residents are helping police win the war against illegal drug gangs who are targeting the borough's upmarket homes to harvest copious amounts of cannabis.

CLUED-up residents are helping police win the war against illegal drug gangs who are targeting the borough's upmarket homes to harvest copious amounts of cannabis.

After police uncovered yet another massive haul of cannabis plants in Caister on Tuesday, the officer leading the investigation was quick to praise the actions of savvy residents, whose concerns led police to raid the desirable family home on Diana Way.

In one of the most sophisticated drug factories ever seen, police found six rooms packed with cannabis plants with a street value of more than �100,000.

It is the second drugs den uncovered in the village this year after police found a massive haul of 972 plants at a family detached home in Yarmouth Road on January 19. Police said they were not linking the finds yet, but evidence gathered from both scenes would be compared.

Det Sgt Mark Pack said the raid was a direct result of information from the public. “Neighbours had noticed very little movement at the house, the blinds were continually drawn and no cars ever parked on the driveway.”

A combination of high profile finds in Yarmouth and work by safer neighbourhood teams meant residents were aware of tell-tale signs of drug dens, said Det Sgt Pack.

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Officers found plants at various stages of cultivation from seedlings to ones measuring three-and-a-half feet tall. High-voltage heat lamps powered by illegally tapped electricity dangled from the ceilings while every room had ventilation pipes. The home had been rented by a Vietnamese couple.

“While this was a big find, the difference is the level of sophistication used. To get electricity, a pipe had been drilled into the main cable underground. It's a dangerous job and an expert one.”

A 42-year-old man, found asleep when police crashed through the door, was charged with producing cannabis and appeared at Yarmouth Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Thanh Cong Nguyen, a Vietnamese national, was described in court as a “coerced lackey” exploited by a ruthless drugs gang.

The court heard Nguyen had been brought to England on the promise of working as a chef in London, and was smuggled into the country from France by lorry. After he was abandoned without passport and papers Nguyen slipped into the clutches of a Vietnamese drugs gang.

Nguyen, an illegal immigrant, admitted producing cannabis and was remanded in custody to appear at Norwich Crown Court for sentence at a later date.

Det Sgt Pack said it was unusual for police to find a 'gardener' at the den and as a result police had gathered further intelligence and were chasing other suspects.

Neighbour Neil Bowman revealed his shock at the find this week and said despite concerns of his neighbours, he had been “completely unaware” what had been going on in his street.

Mr Bowman, who has lived in Diana Way for eight years, said: “You wouldn't expect this sort of thing to happen on an estate like this, it's a really nice, quiet estate.”

To report anything suspicious in your area contact Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567.

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