Drug trafficker awaits fate in Albany prison

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
The cash found in the car near Coolgardie in 2017.
Camera IconThe cash found in the car near Coolgardie in 2017. Credit: Kalgoorlie Miner

A Vietnamese national will spend almost two years behind bars before he is inevitably jailed for his involvement in a Vietnamese crime syndicate which led to WA police seizing $378,000 hidden in a hire car.

Judge Alan Troy told Van Thanh Cu, 36, he would be jailed in July after pleading guilty last week to cultivating cannabis with intent to sell or supply and laundering property or money that is proceeds of an offence.

Mr Cu was the passenger in a hire car which was stopped by Kalgoorlie police on Great Eastern Highway on the outskirts of Coolgardie, where police uncovered $378,450 hidden under the seats in October, 2017.

The cash led police to a home in Wongan Hills, two hours east of Perth, where 212 cannabis plants worth more than $1 million were found.

His arrest was part of Taskforce Silverdrift, which was launched only months earlier to crack down on the increased number of cannabis “grow houses” in WA.

Last financial year, taskforce detectives charged 58 people with 167 offences, including drug trafficking, and froze cash and assets worth almost $8.5 million.

Search warrants of 113 properties found about 12,442 cannabis plants, 542kg of cannabis and about $600,000 cash.

The court previously heard Mr Cu and Xuan Viet Cu, 32, had leased the car from Perth Airport and the two Vietnamese men were intending to drive to Sydney.

In Albany District Court on Friday, Mr Cu was reduced to tears when told by Mr Troy a trial of issues hearing would be adjourned due to the difficulties of an interpreter being on video link delaying the process.

The level of his culpa-bility was set to be disputed until the difficulties of involving an interpreter brought a premature halt to the hearing.

Mr Troy said there was a “significant difference” between the position of the defence and prosecution which would alter the length of prison term he imposed.

Mr Cu, who has remained in Albany Regional Prison since his arrest in October, 2017, was twice warned by Mr Troy not to speak directly to him and to use his lawyer.

The charges were adjourned until June 28.

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