Cannabis factory linked to Vietnamese crime gang

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A man with a Lurgan address was accused of having a ‘significant role’ in a Vietnamese crime organisations, Belfast High Court heard last week.

It follows the discovery of a £500,000 cannabis factory above a restaurant in Greyabbey, Co Down.

Prosecutors claimed a man working as a cook at the premises had a significant role in the alleged racket.

Dat Chung Duong faces charges of cultivating, possessing and conspiring to supply cannabis. The 62-year-old, of Stevenson Park, Lurgan, is further accused of dishonestly using and diverting electricity, and transferring up to £26,000 in criminal property.

Duong was granted bail but banned from entering the village of Greyabbey.

He was arrested days after police forced their way into rooms above the New White Satin Chinese restaurant on August 23 and discovered a large-scale growing operation.

Plants, at various stages of growth, with an estimated street value of between £350,000 and £500,000 were seized.

During Duong’s bail application he repeatedly interrupted to protest his innocence, claiming he had only been working at the restaurant for days “cutting the chicken and vegetables”.

But Adrian Higgins, prosecuting, said he is suspected of being part of a wider criminal operation. “Police believe this applicant to be a member of an organised Vietnamese crime gang,” he told the court.Joel Lindsay, defending, said his client discovered the keys after the owner left them at his house and was planning to return them.

A series of money transfers to Vietnam worth £26,000 in total were made by Duong on behalf of friends who did not have a bank account, he told the court.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Weatherup banned Duong from applying for any passport and ordered him to report to police daily.