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Growhouse worker was victim of human trafficking

A victim of human trafficking from Vietnam ended up working in a cannabis growhouse in East Galway, where he was arrested by Gardaí.

However, on discovering that the defendant had been brought to the growhouse without even knowing that he was in Ireland, the charges were withdrawn.

The defendant, Huy Van Ngo (42) was before Loughrea District Court on charges of being in possession of drugs and being in possession of cannabis for sale and supply.

It was stated by his barrister Keith Concannon that his client had been trafficked into the country and did not realise where he was.

He said that his client’s version of events of how he ended up in a grow house at Eastwell, Cappataggle, have been accepted by the State.

Prosecuting Sergeant Christy Browne informed the court that it was the order of the Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw the charges against the defendant.

The accused, who was arrested by Garda Pat Casey of the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit, was charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act but, after further investigations, it was discovered that he was a victim of human trafficking.

It emerged that the accused was approached in Vietnam in 2018 by a person who informed him that he could earn good money abroad.

He was told that he had to pay €20,000 to get to the UK, but that he could work in Britain to pay back his debt.

The defendant ended up in the UK where he spent some time working and was subsequently brought hidden in a van to Ireland.

He did not know he was in Ireland until he was told and ended up in the growhouse where he was employed watering plants.

According to the Garda report, the house and his living conditions were cold, dirty and the Gardai described it as “inhumane”.

The police in the UK confirmed that the accused landed there from France on a ferry in March 2021.

The Gardai in the Human Trafficking and Investigation Coordination Unit (HTICU) conducted an extensive inquiry into the situation and were satisfied that the defendant was a victim of human trafficking.

The Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed the file and concluded that the charges against the defendant should be withdrawn.

The report states that investigations are ongoing into further grow houses in the area following on from this incident.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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