Tayside’s top drugs cop has said south-east Asian gangsters were behind a network of secret cannabis farms uncovered in Tayside (writes Sean Hamilton). Detective Inspector Adrian Robertson, the head of Tayside Police’s drugs squad, was speaking after the Tele revealed the force seized almost half-a-million pounds worth of cannabis plants last year — an increase of more than 400% on the previous year.
Evidence gathered during the resulting investigations pointed toward the involvement of Chinese and Vietnamese Triad gangs based in London and south-east Asia.
“The vast majority of large-scale finds have been cultivated by people of south-east Asian origin,” said DI Robertson.
“We have evidence linking these finds to gangs in London and in Asia itself.
“They are often involved in other criminal activities, besides drugs, and are known to be involved in the illegal trafficking of people.
“These gangs have been drawn to our area because of the relatively wide, cheap availability of property from which to run their operations.
“There’s also perhaps a feeling there that they’re less likely to be discovered in a Scottish village than if they’re in the middle of Glasgow or London.”
In February, two Chinese nationals and a Malaysian were jailed for a total of 10 years at Dundee Sheriff Court for cultivating cannabis in a house in Dundee’s Friary Gardens.
Without detection, their crop could have gone on to fetch up to £141,000 on the streets.
Known as “gardeners”, the young men tasked with looking after the gangsters’ illicit crop are often victims of violence or intimidation and are frequently smuggled into the country illegally.
They receive no payment for cultivating a crop, but are provided with food and lodgings and are also usually involved in the sale of cannabis in herbal or resin form.
As a result, seizures of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin also increased by 642% in 2008/09, when 871 kilos was hauled in.
Confronted with the large-scale nature of the networks being uncovered, police forces across Scotland have now pooled resources to combat the cannabis scourge, DI Robertson revealed.
Operation League 2 is being led by Strathclyde Police and, since its inception in September 2008, cannabis plants with a value of £5.7 million have been seized.
DI Robertson said, “There’s a high likelihood that all the farms that have been uncovered so far are linked.
“The farms in Tayside will be linked to farms in Strathclyde and in England, so a national approach is the best way to deal with what has become a big issue.
“Our intelligence gathering and enforcement capabilities have been upped as a result of this operation and, as a result, I’d expect current levels of detection and seizures to continue, if not increase in future.”