A man who had a large marijuana grow operation in his Cloverdale home has been sentenced to a year in jail, followed by a year of probation.
In March 2012, BC Hydro complained about electricity being stolen from a house on 60 Avenue in Cloverdale.
Surrey RCMP officers found 1,206 marijuana plants in the home, which could have produced more than 71 pounds of pot valued at between $128,000 and $157,000. They also found more than 12 pounds of dried marijuana worth more than $21,000.
Van Hoach Pham, the owner of the home, was found hiding under insulation in the attic.
The house was heavily fortified with reinforced security gate with two deadbolt locks, behind which was a metal door with another door locks. There were also security cameras.
Four days after the search, Pham abruptly sold the house for $450,000 – well below its assessed value of $611,000.
Pham eventually pleaded guilty to production of marijuana.
During sentencing submissions, his lawyer argued Pham, 34, was merely a caretaker of the grow operation and was receiving $5,000 per month from the owner and operator of the grow op. The Crown argued Pham was the principal operator.
In his Jan. 16 reasons for sentence, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jenkins spoke of the impact drug use and distribution has on the community.
“Surrey and many other communities in British Columbia have been seriously impacted by the addiction, crime and loss of personal opportunity resulting from the use of illegal drugs,” said Jenkins. “It is evident that Mr. Pham failed to consider the consequences of his activities in the drug culture upon society as a whole.”
In addition to the year-long jail sentence and probation, Pham is also banned from possessing weapons for 10 years and must forfeit any property seized from the home.
He has no prior criminal record.
Had the offence occurred after Nov. 6, 2012, Pham would have faced a much longer prison term. That’s when mandatory minimum two-year jail sentences for large-scale grow operations(more than 500 plants) came into force. There also would have been a mandatory three-year minimum sentence in connection to the fire-hazard implications for the bypass and theft of electricity.