Vietnamese migrants caught at would-be cannabis factory in UK

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Twelve illegal Vietnamese immigrants were apprehended at an alleged cannabis factory in the town of West Bromwich, UK, during a multi-agency drug crackdown, the UK Border Agency said Tuesday on its website.

Acting on intelligence, the UKBA officers, West Bromwich police, and representatives from other relevant agencies, raided a house in Beaconview Road, West Bromwich, on March 16 and discovered a dozen Vietnamese men and women along with fertilizer, lamps and foil tiles.

Though no trace of the drug was found in the house, the officers believed that the inhabitants were about to start operating a cannabis factory. All the equipment needed to cultivate cannabis was seized.

One of the Vietnamese nationals caught inside the house was wanted by Bristol police for drugs offences. The man, aged 25, was arrested.

A woman, aged 43, was expelled from the UK on April 1.

"We are now taking steps to remove the remaining illegal immigrants eight males and two females as soon as possible. They have been bailed while the agency obtains emergency travel documents from the Vietnamese High Commission," the UKBA said.

Simon Excell, deputy director of the UKBA, said, "It's likely that these foreign nationals were trafficked into the UK to cultivate cannabis. The traffickers keep illegal immigrants in their debt, a debt which they have to work off for a pittance at cannabis factories like this one."

"Working alongside other enforcement agencies, we will find and prosecute the Mr Bigs behind these factories," he said.

A cross-government task force, comprised of representatives from the UKBA, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Association of Chief Police Officers and the Serious Organized Crime Agency, is tackling Vietnamese illegal migration.

The taskforce works with European partners to identify routes and undertake disruption activities.

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