Vietnamese Australian woman faces trial for running cannabis syndicate

By Phan Anh   November 12, 2018 | 11:59 pm PT
Vietnamese Australian woman faces trial for running cannabis syndicate
A Vietnamese woman would face trial next year after being accused of running a cannabis syndicate in Australia. Photo by Shutterstock/photolona
An Australian woman of Vietnamese descent accused of running a cannabis syndicate in Australia could face trial next year.

The Newcastle Herald reported that Nga White, 44, was investigated by local authorities after a receipt from her nail and beauty salon was found in a cannabis dump site in the Wallsend suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales, in March last year.

Detectives found that Nga owned or leased at least eight properties in the region.

The properties were placed under surveillance from April to August last year. Police found seven Vietnamese men, deemed Nga’s "underlings" in the syndicate, cultivating large quantities of cannabis on the properties. Six of them were found to have come to Australia illegally.

Last month, three of the seven men were arrested with 18 kilograms of cannabis by local police in Newcastle. A local house raid followed, and Nga was arrested.

Nga appeared in the Newcastle District Court last Thursday.

During her arraignment, she pleaded not guilty to charges of "directing the activities of a criminal group," "cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis," "supplying a commercial quantity of cannabis" and "supplying a prohibited drug," the The Newcastle Herald reported.

She could face a four-week trial in the same court next September, where the state would attempt to prove Nga’s links to the cannabis plants found in her salon, a judge was cited as saying.

Also last month, five Vietnamese nationals pleaded guilty to roles in a $2.8 million cannabis operation in Maitland, New South Wales. In September, another Vietnamese man in Australia was sentenced to five years in jail for cultivating $750,000 worth of cannabis and stealing $151,000 worth of electricity.

Australia is fairly relaxed about cannabis use. In February 2016 the Federal Government passed laws to legalize medicinal cannabis to treat patients with painful and chronic conditions with products imported from overseas.

It has also given the green light for licensed companies to legally import, store and sell the drug until domestic production meets local needs.

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