VIC:Real Estate Drug Grower Faces Life in Jail

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Friday, September 16th, 2016
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A Melbourne real estate agent is facing life in jail after he admitted turning rental properties into cannabis growing houses as part of a large commercial drug trafficking operation.

Prosecutors say Loc Tran, 39, was the “CEO” of a syndicate that cultivated 1255 cannabis plants in properties across Victoria between July 2014 and January 2015.

He had been approached to take part in the enterprise because his role in real estate gave him access to houses and commercial sites, the Victorian County Court heard on Wednesday.

“He was an important cog because of his access to properties,” defence barrister Leighton Gwynn, for Tran, said.

Tran procured rental properties, arranged the set-up of hydroponic systems – including illegal electricity by-passes – organised crop-sitters and rehabilitated the properties, the crown said.

Prosecutor Yildana Hardjadibrata said Tran ran the joint criminal enterprise that cultivated cannabis for sale.

“The prosecution considers him to be at the highest level of the hierarchy of the enterprise,” Mr Hardjadibrata told the court.

Tran came undone after he accepted $4000 from an undercover police officer for fake IDs as part of a “service” he offered to help the cop set up a cannabis crop in a Bayswater factory, the court heard.

Mr Gwynn said Tran accepts his wrongdoing and has shown genuine remorse.

The former real estate agent wanted to accept responsibility for his wrongdoings, Mr Gwynn said, but also submitted Tran was not the “CEO” but a subsidiary to others.

“As a real estate agent, he was approached,” Mr Gwynn says.

Tran has pleaded guilty to trafficking a large commercial quantity of cannabis, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

He has also pleaded guilty to trafficking a commercial quantity of heroin, and two counts of providing false IDs for the purpose of renting properties to trafficking a drug of dependence.

His co-accused Chi Chung, 37, and Vasilios Maikantis, 69, have each pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis.

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