Court rules in exploitation of Vietnamese woman in weed farm Wittelte

The court in Assen will decide today on a human trafficking case in Wittelte, in which a Vietnamese woman is said to have been forced to work under appalling conditions in a cannabis farm.

The cannabis farm in a warehouse in Wittelte was rounded up by the police in December 2020. Four people were in the building, including the victim, as it turned out later. They were all of Vietnamese descent. Further in the shed was a caravan, in which people lived, a kitchen with partly moldy food remains. Behind the caravan was a garden chair with a bucket underneath, which served as a toilet. There was no heating.

One of those present stated that she was forced to take care of the nearly four thousand cuttings and 350 hemp plants. She did not speak Dutch and she was in the Netherlands illegally. She stayed in the shed in Wittelte for about three months. A 58-year-old Vietnamese woman from Amsterdam had brought her to Wittelte, under the guise of ‘looking after children’.

A 64-year-old Vietnamese man from Meppel took her to the warehouse. The man negotiated and communicated with three ‘Western men’, including the owner of the warehouse. According to the victim, the three were in charge in the beginning. The Vietnamese would later have taken over that role. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) sees the 58-year-old from Amsterdam as the main suspect and two years were demanded against her.

The Amsterdam handed out the sheets, according to the Public Prosecution Service. The woman had several homes in her name, while she had no legal income. In the shed of her home, the officers found a weapon with a silencer and ammunition. The weapon had her DNA mixed with someone else’s. The OM demanded 1.5 years in prison against the Vietnamese man from Meppel. The 35-year-old owner of the warehouse should be sentenced to 20 months in prison.

It was not the first time that the agents found a weed farm in his warehouse. In February 2020, the police also raided the warehouse and found a nursery without plants. They were already gone. During that investigation it emerged that the warehouse was being re-let. This time to a man from Emmen. That was the reason for the police to search the building again in December of that year.

The new tenant from Emmen (40) and his assistant from Hoogeveen (32) were sentenced to 16 months in prison for their role, of which 4 months were suspended. According to them, the Public Prosecution Service completely missed the mark. There was absolutely no labor exploitation, they said. The Vietnamese woman was there voluntarily. This was her job, she would have explained to them. She would also have done this before in England and Belgium.