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8 February 2011, 12:17
Four men - convicted of running one of the biggest cannabis factories ever found in Essex - have been jailed for a total of more than 16 years.
The men, all Vietnamese nationals, were arrested after police found 8-thousand plants at an old warehouse in Maldon last November.
The crop had a street value of around 2 million pounds.
All four men admitted producing cannabis between July and November 2010 and were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday.
Ho Vu Phong, 23, was jailed for four years and eight months, Tran Hung Van, 44 and Le Tuan Van, 40, were both jailed for four years and Doan Nguyen Hai, 18, was jailed for three years and eight months. All four had been of no fixed address at the time of their arrests.
Senior investigating officer, DCI Simon Parkes, of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "These men were involved in the day-to-day running of one of the biggest, and certainly the most sophisticated, cannabis factories ever found in Essex.
"They were working full time and in complete secrecy in a former printing works to cultivate cannabis plants in various stages of growth. They had a potential street value of around £2million when fully grown.
"We estimate that the people who set up this site had invested more than £250,000 on this factory but their plans to cash in on the drugs black market were thwarted following some excellent surveillance and detective work by a team of locally-based officers."