A cannabis-growing venture at Whangārei for which four Vietnamese nationals were arrested, involved more than 4000 plants and 45.1 kilograms of cannabis head material. Photo / File
By Open Justice Staff Reporter, Te Tai Tokerau
A Vietnamese national has admitted his involvement in a cannabis-growing operation in which police seized more than 4000 plants and 45.1 kilograms of cannabis head material.
But he denies police claims he masterminded the venture.
Long Van Tran, 19, was one of four men – all Vietnamese nationals – arrested when police swooped on a rural property in Robinson Rd, at Whangārei Heads, earlier this year.
Police alleged the men were all involved in a large-scale commercial cannabis-growing operation operating out of two big polythene tunnels and two houses at the property.
Tran, assisted by an interpreter, pleaded guilty in Whangārei District Court today to cultivating cannabis and possession of it for sale.
Judge John McDonald noted the court could not sentence Tran until a dispute about his level of involvement in the venture was resolved which is to be decided at an upcoming hearing.
Tran's lawyer said his client only arrived at the property a few days ahead of the arrests. He had only gone there to help with harvesting and was not involved any further than that in the operation.
But prosecutor Nicole Jamieson said the Crown had evidence Tran was the principal offender.
Judge McDonald further remanded Tran on bail.
It is understood his co-offenders, Truang Nguyen, 19, Tien Minh Duong, 21, and Thai Ho, 33, have all pleaded not guilty to their alleged roles in the venture. Their cases are still tracking through the court process.