POLICE behind the find have said it is one of the largest hauls of cannabis they have seized in 20 years.
OFFICERS on patrol near a former hotel stumbled across a drug growing operation worth hundreds of thousands of pounds by chance.
Police decided to enter The Waggoner’s Rest on Station Street, Sutterton, after spotting a security light was on, only to discover it had been crammed with cannabis plants.
On Monday at Lincoln Crown Court, two Vietnamese “gardeners” who had been sleeping inside on mattresses were each jailed for two years.
Hung Quoc Tran (22) and An Van Nguyen (30) had both admitted unlawful production of cannabis on November 16.
Edna Leonard, prosecuting, said: “They (the police) knew the hotel had been unoccupied for several months. When they approached the building they could smell cannabis and noticed the windows all had their curtains closed.”
Miss Leonard said that a total of 1,425 mature cannabis plants were recovered from the building, which had been leased out by the owner to a client who claimed he was going to convert the premises into a restaurant.
Miss Leonard said it had not been possible to establish an exact amount the cannabis was worth but added: “The yield from these plants was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
Gordon Holt, in mitigation, said both men were recruited as gardeners after being approached and offered work while staying in London.
He said: “Both arrived as illegal immigrants. They arrived from Vietnam via a circuitous route having incurred quite significant debts at home to do so.
“They were in London and were approached to some work in the Boston area. Both needed work and money and they were transported to Boston in the same car.”
Mr Holt said Tran was told he would be killed if he left the building.
Giving the sentence, Judge Michael Heath said: “This was a professional, well-organised, large scale cannabis growing operation.”
Police behind the find have said it is one of the largest hauls of cannabis they have seized in 20 years.
Insp Phil Clark said: “This is yet another example of the commitment of Lincolnshire Police to tackle the production and supply of controlled drugs.
“This is the largest seizure of cannabis plants that I have witnessed in 20 years of policing.
“The discovery of the production facility occurred as a direct result of the pro-active work of uniformed officers based at Boston.
“The mains electricity supply had been diverted and tampered with to such an extent that there was a very real threat to any person exposed to the premises.”