Police raid £4m county lines cannabis farm and discover three Vietnamese ‘slaves’ locked inside after ruthless gang left them with just grains of rice to eat while they cultivated crop.
Three Vietnamese ‘slaves’ were shockingly locked inside a huge, secret drugs farm by a ruthless county lines gang with only grains of rice to eat.
The men, who had been driven from London to Lincolnshire in the dead of night with the promise of a job, were rescued when police raided a warehouse on the Foxhills Industrial Estate in Scunthorpe.
One of them, Vietnamese national Quang Van Ho, had been trapped inside the warehouse for two months with gangmasters screwing the doors shut to stop him escaping.
They were left with nothing to eat but bags of rice and given strict orders to cultivate the 15,000 plants worth up to £4 million on the street.
Harrowing details of their ordeal emerged after a hearing at Grimsby Crown Court which heard about the July 28th raid on the £4m cannabis factory, thought to be the largest found in northern Lincolnshire.
Humberside Police who rescued the three men trapped in the warehouse discovered 15,000 cannabis plants which took almost a week to remove.
Police arrested Ho and his two compatriots and charged them with producing cannabis between June 1 and July 30.
But in court on Thursday they were cleared after the case against them collapsed because they were victims of modern day slavery or people trafficking.
Speaking after the hearing, solicitor advocate Richard Hackfath, who represented Ho, said ‘He came into this country on his own passport on a visitor’s visa but ended up being detained in an immigration detention centre.
It is thought Ho and his fellow detainees were ‘recruited’ on the streets of the capital and had no idea they which part of the country they ended up in.
Following his release ‘he had no means of support’ until ‘somebody in London offered him a job’.
He said: ‘That’s how he was brought to Scunthorpe in the middle of the night and was locked in.
‘He was never paid and if people refuse to work they beat them. He was there inside the premises for two months.
‘There was a bag of rice and things found in there. It was very rudimentary but just enough to keep him going.
‘The other two were in there in exactly the same way but they came into the country in the back of a lorry. They said they had been smuggled in.’
Ho walked free from Grimsby Crown Court and, by virtue of his passport and visa remaining valid, he is subject to no deportation requirements.
Following the bust Detective Inspector John Cram said the ‘professional set-up’ was one of the county’s largest ever, adding: ‘I have never seen a factory this big.’
The force is understood to be still trying to trace the ringleaders behind the plot.
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