Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fight against Drugs Farms Goes Global; POLICE TEAM UP WITH FAR EAST IN BID TO BEAT CANNABIS BARONS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fight against Drugs Farms Goes Global; POLICE TEAM UP WITH FAR EAST IN BID TO BEAT CANNABIS BARONS

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

THE fight against DIY dope factories has stretched from Tyneside to the Far East.

Detectives probing the trend of Vietnamese villains travelling to the region to set up cannabis farms have forged links with colleagues in the criminals' homeland.

Officers from the Total Policing Task Force have handed over a file of fingerprints in a bid to trace the real identities of those arrested here after farms have been busted.

They have teamed up with Vietnamese detectives and their counterparts in London's Metropolitan Police Intelligence Bureau in a meeting arranged by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Officers from all three forces will now share intelligence as a new way to combat the problem, which has grown over the last few years.

Det Insp Mark Appleby of the Task Force said: "One of the issues we had in the past was finding out the real identity of the farmers we arrest.

"To resolve this we have given the Vietnamese police a file of fingerprints so they can provide us with the real names and criminal histories.

"This will lead to longer sentences for convicted criminals as the courts will be able to take previous offending into account."

The partnership comes after the Task Force smashed a pounds 4m dope dynasty which was operating across the North East.

Operation Attero saw more than 30 cannabis farms dismantled and more than 9,000 plants recovered.

Among the addresses raided were a detached pounds 750,000 bungalow in Darras Hall, Ponteland, and two pounds 400,000 detached homes on Newcastle's Great Park estate.

Officers targeted rented properties being used as farms, as well as so-called "barrack" addresses, where managers of the operation were living, often with family.

Det Insp Appleby said: "Our aim is to stop potential farmers before they get on the plane, and to make it impossible for organised criminals to bring people into the area to work for them. We know that people pay a lot of money to come to Britain in the hope that they will make money. …

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