Cook faces deportation after working on drug crop
A VIETNAMESE national will be deported after he got caught up working on a marijuana farm.
He and another man claim they were initially "duped" to work at the rural Lockyer Valley property at Buaraba.
When police raided the property at dawn more than 3000 marijuana plants were found growing.
Van Phong Nguyen, 43, from Vietnam, and Han Van Trinh, 63, (pictured) from Melbourne, went before the District Court in Ipswich and pleaded guilty to unlawfully producing the dangerous drug marijuana - exceeding 500g, at Buaraba between August 1, 2017, and January 26, 2018; and unlawful possession of the dangerous drug marijuana - quantity exceeding 500g on January 25, 2018.
Trinh also pleaded guilty to having $2750 in cash suspected of being proceeds from a drug offence.
Crown prosecutor Farook Anoozer said the drug crop was growing on a 17ha property that held a house, carport, a new shed, and four large greenhouses.
Mr Anoozer said when the men saw the police at 5am they tried to run away.
Inside the house police found 870 marijuana seedlings and a shed held 1417 marijuana plants with power boards and lighting set up.
More than 1400 marijuana plants were growing in greenhouses using hydroponic equipment.
Mr Anoozer said the total number of marijuana plants was 3275.
A photo was found on Trinh's mobile phone of the shed being built. It was taken on August 1, 2017, at the start of production.
Mr Anoozer said the two men were not principal offenders but paid workers.
"Their co-operation is limited only to their pleas," he said.
No evidence was put before the court as to who the main offenders were.
Defence barrister Scott Lynch said Trinh, from Melbourne, was a mere worker and the money he was found with was provided to him and for other workers.
"He was somewhat duped into being there. He has history in construction and was asked to come out and oversee the construction of a shed," Mr Lynch said.
"He was told he could grow vegetables and stay there.
"Then he found out that other things were going on as the time passed.
"He was merely trying to make money out of his vegies, in the fruit bowl, the Lockyer Valley."
Defence barrister John Jacob said Nguyen was a cook who'd worked on cargo freighter ships.
"He was recruited as a cook on a farm, $100 a day. In that sense he was similarly duped," Mr Jacob said.
"He saw cucumbers, tomatoes. Then saw plants he didn't recognise."
Judge Dennis Lynch QC accepted the men were paid workers and unlikely to share in profits.
Judge Lynch said a three-year jail term was appropriate because of the scale of cultivation but given their roles it was appropriate they did not serve more jail time.
Nguyen had spent 370 days in custody, and Trinh 232 days.
For the production of dangerous drugs, they each received three years' jail; and 18 months (concurrent) for the possession of dangerous drugs.
Their time already served was declared and the remainder of their sentence suspended for four years
Trinh walked from the court with his son.
Nguyen remained in custody to be dealt with by Immigration.