A man who was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for drugs production offences has been served with a confiscation order for more than £1.3m.
At a Proceeds of Crime Hearing on 21 August 2012, Chester Crown Court heard how Don Han Le, 43, from Elmstead Crescent, had been involved in a string of cannabis factories across Crewe.
He first came to Crewe Neighbourhood Policing Unit′s attention on 31 August 2009 when officers were called to a disturbance at an address in Queen Street.
The allegation was unfounded, but on searching the property, officers discovered a cannabis farm and Don Le was the tenant′s landlord.
DC Lindsay Woofitt said: "We were alerted again to another disturbance at an address and came across a cannabis farm similar to the first set up. Again, there was a link to Le.
"As the investigation unfolded, detectives discovered more houses belonging to Le, being rented out by Le or being part owned by Le. In total, 18 houses linked him to drug activity."
Approximately 4,298 cannabis plants, plus approximately 6 kilos of cannabis "skunk" was seized by police, estimated to have a street value in the region of £694,700.
Several of the discovered cannabis factories used illegal immigrants as ‘gardeners′. Some were juveniles who after arrest were dealt with by social services.
Adult ‘gardeners′ were formally interviewed and a number were convicted for their part in the cultivation of the cannabis.
Detectives began to trace the other offenders connected to the drugs ring and were able to gather enough evidence to charge six men, including Don Han Le.
Le was charged with conspiring to produce class B controlled drugs and acquiring, using and possessing criminal property.
On 24 August 2011 at Chester Crown Court, he was sentenced to 7 years for the first offence and 2 years for the second, with the sentences running concurrently.
Cheshire Police′s Financial Investigation Unit then commenced a financial investigation against Le to deprive him of the profits of the enterprise.
Le must now pay just over £137,000 to the courts within six months or face a further two years and three months imprisonment.
DC Elaine McIver of the Financial Investigation Unit said: "This should serve as a warning to others that crime really does not pay.
"The confiscation order has been made and although Le does not currently have the assets to pay the full amount of the order he will owe that sum of money to the courts for the rest of his life until he can repay the full amount.
"The Financial Investigation Unit can conduct updated financial checks on people and if assets or the means to pay is identified in the future then Le will be taken back to court."
DC Lindsay Wooffitt said: "Cannabis factories have come to light from either members of the public informing the police of suspicious activities at a premises, or by police pro-actively raiding premises. We can′t emphasise enough the importance of the public′s vigilance and support in identifying suspicious activity to help us take drugs off the streets of Crewe and the neighbouring towns.
"We will continue our fight to stop the distribution and consumption of drugs to improve quality of life for residents and to ensure residents have their right to feel safe and be safe."
Anyone with any information about drug related crime is urged to call Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.