Judge sends ‘slaves’ forced to grow cannabis to prison

By Chris Bovey

A court has heard how two Vietnamese men caught growing hundreds of cannabis plants in a Portsmouth house were ‘virtually slaves’.

Sen Dang, 34, and Nhi Nguy, 33 had travelled from Vietnam under false pretences. They had their passports taken from them in France and were then put to work growing cannabis in the United Kingdom.

Dang and Nguy were ultimately arrested after police found 200 plants at a home in Portsmouth. Fingerprints linked them to further cannabis grows found in other parts of England too.

Judge Richard Price sentences two Vietnamese victims of slavery to prison for production of cannabis.

Judge Richard Price

The pair were each jailed for one year after admitting the offence of being concerned with the production of a class B drug. Even Judge Richard Price showed a degree of compassion when sentencing them; stating that the pair growing Cannabis, were treated ‘like slaves’. However, that didn’t stop him from wasting approximately £50,000 of tax payers money sending them to prison for one year (assuming they serve a little under half their sentence before they are deported). The judge’s hands were possibly tied because of the Sentencing Guidelines and he should at least be complimented for acknowledging they were victims of slavery, and for not giving a harsher sentence.

Addressing Nguy and Dang; both of no fixed abode, Judge Richard Price during sentencing said of their actions: “You both knew that it was against the law but you are not entirely responsible for some of what has happened to you.

“I have no doubt you were brought here under false pretences.

“I have no doubt you were led into this slavery, for it is a form of slavery, to produce a controlled drug of class B, and I take all those matters into account, very much into account, as I do your desire to return to Vietnam as soon as possible.”

While some compassion here has been demonstrated by Judge Richard Price; at the end of the day, the British taxpayer is still to spend tens of thousands of pounds incarcerating two victims of slavery. Not to mention the costs of the police investigation and bringing them to court.

This is just the tip of the iceberg too. Dang and Nguy are a mere drop in the ocean. The truth is there are many more victims of people trafficking, including children who are forcibly brought to Britain to grow cannabis by organised criminals. The people at the top seldom get caught though.

The reason they are here is because there is a huge demand for cannabis in the UK and when there is a demand for a product, it will either be supplied by a regulatory model or the criminal black market. Alcohol prohibition didn’t work in the USA. It only spawned a mass epidemic of organised crime. The sad case of Dang and Nguy from Vietnam is further proof the War on Drugs supported by the International Narcotics Control Board has been a dismal failure.

It’s a scientifically proven fact cannabis is safer than legal alcohol, even the leader of the Free World, President Obama, has recently said so. That’s why many lawmakers in America and throughout the world are watching closely the legal sale of recreational pot in the US states of Colorado and Washington, as well as in the tiny Latin American country of Uruguay.

In Colorado you can now buy cannabis with quality controls at the point of sale, you can be sure it has not been grown by Vietnamese slave children and the state government is getting a good deal too, with millions of extra dollars being pumped into the state school system as a result of revenue raised from cannabis taxation, not to mention the money saved in courts, police, prisons, etc.,

In Britain, you can either grow your own cannabis, which risks having your door kicked down by men in uniform who will take your plants and haul you through the courts, possibly resulting in a custodial sentence. Or you can buy it on the black market, which will often be substandard cannabis that might have been grown by ruthless criminals involved in the heinous crimes of people trafficking and slavery.

The real crime here is prohibition and the only victims are Sen Dang and Nhi Nguy.

Our MPs need to take note of what is happening in the rest of the world, in which many states are examining the liberalisation of cannabis laws. The Liberals are almost certain to win the next Canadian elections and their leader Justin Trudeau is in favour of full legalisation and regulation.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, we have police forces raiding shops for selling legal smoking paraphernalia, politicians like Gordon Brown unscientifically stating skunk is lethal, dopey judges claiming cannabis is no worse than heroin and Police and Crime Commissioners like Matthew Grove telling us cannabis is a source of widespread misery. Sorry Mr Grove, but it is the policies that you and your Tory politician friends support which are the source of widespread misery, forced labour and slavery –  unlike smoking pot these are crimes with real victims and the ending of prohibition would put an end to this evil practice.

Does the British Government really want the slave traffickers to control the cannabis market? Or does it want sensible regulation that would put the people traffickers out of business and potentially generate much needed billions of pounds in taxes for the Exchequer.

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  1. The trouble as I see it is – no matter what sentence these men had been given it would not deter anyone from setting up a similar operation (since those caught and charged had no say in their involvement anyway). This leads to the broader point that the threat of prison does not seem to convince anyone that cannabis is harmful to them (which it can be if not used sensibly ). There seems to be no shortage of people willing to risk legal action in producing, selling or buying cannabis. If the case can be made on health grounds (as with tobacco) then the money would be better spent on helping users to quit and educating the public over the dangers. At the present time the government seems to not want any mention of drugs or health advice concerning cannabis at all.

    I think that away from the public eye George Osborne and most politicians know the score and know just how much tax could be derived from a legal market. As yet they are too afraid of the press backlash to make any steps towards putting things right – after all they have lied for years about the dangers of drugs and the appropriateness of prohibition. Even groups like NORML would give them a bit of a hard time if they suddenly changed their minds let alone the dreaded Daily Mail and co. We need to let the politicians know we have love for them (i.e. we will vote for them) and support them if they move in our direction on these matters. Meet them half way – agree on the potential dangers but strongly emphasise that these dangers are better death with in a legalised market that can be controlled much better and users no longer need to be living as fugitives. The more we hate those who disagree with us the harder it will be for them to change their minds. UK NORML needs to develop a serious attitude towards legalisation that hinges on harm reduction rather than a party for all your mates when it happens

    • One of the principle arguments for reforming drug laws is prohibition does more harm than good and NORML UK is very much about harm reduction.

      If you read the article I wrote the judge should at least be complimented for acknowledging the men in question were victims of slavery and for not giving them a harsher sentence and that his hands were probably tied by the sentencing guidelines.

      I totally concur that whatever sentence he gave them would make no difference, since they were the victims of slavery and the people at the top will simply find more victims to grow the cannabis and take the risk.

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  3. damn right – this is a powerful argument for reform – the vast majority of kids being smuggled into the UK come from Vietnam and the majority of them in turn are ending up locked in these houses, with the threat of violence hanging over them and their families back home… the statistics from the government’s own CEOP will confirm that (also ECPAT UK and Anti-Slavery International will have figures)

    so it is very difficult to credit Theresa May or any of the parties (except the Greens) with any sincerity about tackling child slavery if they aren’t also serious about putting an end of cannabis prohibition

    the police have had 10 Years to put an end to the underground trade – this business with North Vietnamese gangs and ‘skunk farms’ came onto the UK police radar since as far back as 2006 with Operation Keymer… 8 years on and as the Home Office figures confirm the problem is still growing

    until we have a common sense regulated market for cannabis in the UK this trade in children will only continue

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