Man accused of cultivating $18m cannabis deemed flight risk
A VIETNAMESE man allegedly involved in the cultivation of an estimated $17.79 million dollars worth of cannabis has had his bail refused due to him being an "unacceptable flight risk".
Trong Tung Tran and his three co-accused, Khac Ngoc Mai, Kien Sy Ngo and Giang Hoang are each charged with cultivating a prohibited plant with a large commercial quantity and participating in a criminal group activity.
Mr Tran faced Lismore Local Court on December 24 for a bail hearing, during which his defence lawyer argued the conditions of bail would be like "house arrest".
The street value of the cultivation had previously been estimated at $21.6 million.
There were concerns raised by the Director of Public Prosecutions prosecutor that Mr Tran and his wife both have outstanding arrest warrants in Queensland and with their bridging visas set to expire on January 6, 2021, they could be a flight risk.
The defence argued that Mr Tran's wife and two children were struggling without his presence and Mr Tran possessed several medical issues, including gout in his leg which needed treatment.
Magistrate Jeff Linden said Mr Tran would be able to receive treatment while in custody and that missing a loved one is a common issue for people in incarceration.
Linden agreed with the DPP that due to the issues regarding Mr Tran's visa and that outstanding arrest warrants, Mr Tran was a flight risk and therefore refused bail.
The four men were allegedly involved in the large-scale cultivation of cannabis at a remote 48.5ha property on Bungawalbin Whiporie Road, Gibberagee in June.
Police allegedly located and seized 7200 cannabis plants, and about 50kg of cannabis head, with an estimated potential street value of $17.79 million.
Previously, police had estimated the alleged total street value was closer to $22 million.
The seizure was the largest industrial grow-house cannabis crop located by NSW Police since 2010.
Mr Tran will return to Lismore Local Court on February 10 and there will be a case conference in the intervening time.
The other three men are yet to apply for bail and will have their matters return to Lismore Local Court on January 27.