A man has pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis after being arrested at the site of a multimillion-dollar cannabis operation in Gibberage.
New South Wales police raided the Gibberage property in June last year. The property spans 48.5 hectares and is located on a remote part of the Bungawalbin Whiporie Road. Police allege it was used as a cannabis cultivation site, with cannabis grown across 20 greenhouses the size of Olympic swimming pools.
During the Northern Rivers raid, officers seized 7,200 cannabis plants and roughly 50 kilograms of cannabis. Four people were also arrested in connection with the operation, including 35-year-old Trong Tung Tran.
Tran faced Lisbon District Court earlier this week, where he entered a guilty plea. He is also facing a backup charge of participating in a criminal group, though the court will consider this during sentencing.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is also proceeding with cases against Tran’s co-accused – Khac Ngoc Mai (34), Giang Hoang (37) and Kien Sy Ngo (20). Their cases are due to be heard on May 12th in Lismore Local Court. Mai is also expected to request bail on April 16th.
In February this year, the men disputed the facts of their case in court. Their solicitor now says they are hoping for a “quick resolution”.
The DPP originally charged Tran with two other offences, including taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug and another charge of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis – but the DPP has withdrawn these.
According to NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, the Gibberage operation was likely part of a large criminal syndicate.
Criminals who profit from cultivating these drugs are often known to reinvest funds into other criminal enterprises that directly impact the communities of NSW.
Tran is now due to be sentenced in his remaining cultivation charge on May 31st. He is currently out on bail.