Child slave people trafficked into the UK by ruthless criminal gangs to grow cannabis.

Child slave people trafficked into the UK by ruthless criminal gangs to grow cannabis.

By Richard Shrubb

Teenage child slaves trafficked from Vietnam are being prosecuted for cannabis cultivation instead of being looked after by the state, despite the May government constantly harping on about how they are taking the ‘global lead’ on child trafficking and exploitation.

The Daily Mail reported on the 26th January, “A boy who was just 14 when he was caught running a £200,000 cannabis farm has been jailed for 15 months. The teenager pleaded not guilty to producing the Class B drug cannabis and claimed that he had been people-trafficked from Vietnam and forced to look after 168 plants for two months.”

This is by no means an isolated case. On January 10, the Vietnamese newspaper VN Express reported, “Last month 16 Vietnamese nationals had been jailed in the U.K. for between eight months and 7.35 years for running illegal cannabis farms worth $1.2 million.”

Looking over Google you see stacks and stacks of these stories but the government, with its racist anti-immigrant policy seems not to so much as bat an eyelid over kids and adults being found locked in from the outside of these farms yet being blamed for carrying out the crime.

Yeah, top criminals!

Judging by the stories we see, the May government seems to believe that school-age children of broke Vietnamese farmers buy plane tickets to Heathrow with suitcases full of seeds and plans to supply Liverpool. They then wire up their homes dangerously to grow the weed and get someone to lock them into the building. True?

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT UK), said in a statement on the ECPAT website, “We’ve actually locked up, prosecuted and convicted more victims unlawfully than we have prosecuted those that are exploiting them.

In 2018 Russia Today reported, “New figures released on Monday expose the scale of illegal cannabis farming in the British capital, where police said they had found 314 farms since 2016 — the equivalent of one every two days — according to Scotland Yard data… While the farms were found in every single borough of London, the highest concentration was found in Croydon in south London, with 30 factories found there in total.”

Let’s give the Met Police some credit and assume they take down as many as 10% of cannabis grows. That would mean that over 3000 cannabis grows, cultivated by young slaves, are operational in Greater London at any one time. It is estimated that more than 130,000 modern slaves are in the UK across all industries and ages, a sizeable proportion in drugs production.

Vietnamese children people trafficked and forced into modern slavery to grow cannabis.

Some 3,000 Vietnamese children are enslaved by criminal gangs in the UK to work in brutal conditions and the UK government doesn’t give a shit!

A report on cannabis child slavery by ECPAT stated, “By failing to identify victims and punishing them for crimes they have been forced to commit, the individual may suffer secondary victimisation and may be vulnerable to re-trafficking. Treating victims of trafficking as criminals rather than protecting them, perpetuates the crime and guarantees impunity to traffickers.”

Journeys to the UK – rape, assault and danger

A typical story of a child slave is that of ‘Trang’, a kid who aged 14 broke his leg, needing $2500 worth of medical care to get well again. The lenders took him as ‘collateral’ and said he would work off the family’s debt for them. The Real Seed Company reported his journey: “Into China, across southern Russia, the first leg can be done more or less legally, sometimes by plane or train. Then most likely a ‘waterhole’ in Moscow and a long wait while ‘entrance fees’ are paid and enough human cargo has accumulated for the next stretch. On the way, rape and violence are not uncommon and there may be brutal ‘personal inspections’ by Russian Customs officers dissatisfied with their bribe. A border crossing into Ukraine likely comes next, at night and on foot, with another wait in some anonymous flat until the trafficking networks take them smoothly through the green border into the first EU staging points. Four months in, through the Czech Republic or Germany, and children like Trang can have come as far as the English Channel.”

No child should suffer that journey, or be banged up in prison for it.

Prison – deportation – return to slavery

One advantage of prosecuting these child slaves is that the government can forcibly deport them as ‘criminals’ back to their country of origin. It gets into a sticky situation if it actually treated these kids in the way they should be.

If taken into care the government may be forced to consider them as refugees and this would up the immigration figures. Those who do go into care often disappear and are dragged back by their captors into slavery. If they aren’t, as soon as they turn 18 they are frequently sent back to their origin countries. In August last year Reuters published an investigation that stated, “Between 2015 and 2017, the government denied asylum to 183 people trafficked or enslaved as children – double the total for the previous three years – Home Office (interior ministry) data obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation revealed.”

Policy Officer Catherine Baker of ECPAT told Reuters, “They are being returned to countries where they have a high risk of being retrafficked,” she added. “If the government is serious about protecting child victims of human trafficking, it needs to ensure that they have long term stability and support.”

Legalise cannabis and break the chain?

The best way to stop this horrible business is to legalise cannabis. If people were allowed to grow their own or go to a dispensary to buy it they certainly wouldn’t buy from organised crime using child slaves. This needs to stop – NOW! Unfortunately, this is unlikely as the Conservative Party have their own legal weed grow to protect

Richard Shrubb

Richard is a marijuana, water sports and electric vehicles writer based in Dorchester, Dorset. Living in Prince Charles model housing estate, Poundbury, he is an avowed republican, community and Labour Party activist. Visit his website at for more about what he does.

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