That is unfortunately not a new story. International networks of English and Vietnamese traffickers bring teenage boys from Vietnam to become enslaved gardeners to cultivate marijuana in British suburbs. For the last decade, this crime has been hidden in plain sight, but the police have noticed these last years a trend towards bigger sites, often run by British criminals, using Vietnamese traffickers to provide gardeners. Indeed over the past decade, Vietnamese organized criminals have linked up with gangs in the UK to supply a niche service of slave labor. Teenage girls are trafficked into prostitution and to staff nail bars; boys are brought in to grow cannabis. These children are often homeless orphans in Vietnam or are young boys and girls looking for a better life or who are send abroad to work to pay off their family’s debt. Once there, they feel they have no choice but to accept the exploitation and are too anxious about retaliation from traffickers to speak. With no English language, and with no legal status in this country, they are trapped.
In the UK, “cannabis farms” are most of the time located in inner city houses, stripped and fitted with ventilation, watering systems, and lighting. Theses farms and tended by one or 2 Vietnamese gardeners who are locked inside the premises to take care of the production. Theses young Vietnamese have no identity paper are enslaved in a home, can not get out, and the trafficker brings them food one a week. Police and the authorities are now aware trafficked children are being forced to work in cannabis farms, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Often the same child will be exploited not just in a marijuana farm, but also in myriad different ways. When the police discover a marijuana farm, these Vietnamese “gardeners,” are sent to trial where they are convicted as criminals, jailed and deported back to Vietnam. If the suspects are minors some social organizations may take care of them but often these children “disappear” again and they are put back to work to pay off debts their families, back in Vietnam.
Originally, the Chinese Triad gangs were the first to run this type of activity in Canada. When Canadian police became aware of the problem, the Triads moved to UK and Ireland because of his lax border security, and it’s strategic geographical location made it an ideal spot for Uk and Europe. Today there is no accurate figures on the numbers of young people trafficked from Vietnam to do this work, and despite that UK, enacted the Modern Slavery Act in 2015; it is hard to see any regular government activity that is addressing the trafficking of Vietnamese into the UK. The British government promised to tackle this crime, and even if a David Cameron visited Vietnam in 2015, there has still not been one prosecution of a Vietnamese or English people trafficker in the UK, and there is still many Vietnamese young people in prison for cannabis offenses, despite having been forced into criminality.