Poker pro Luong Bui was jailed for masterminding a $2,250,000 cannabis growing operation in the UK has seen his 15-year jail sentence cut by two years at the Court of Appeal.
Luong Bui, who bagged the 2010 GUKPT London Grand Final Main Event title for a £144,905 payday ($230,304), was described as the “lynchpin” and “controlling mind” of the massive illegal cannabis network.
Based in Northern Ireland, 45-year-old Vietnamese-born, now British citizen Luong Bui rented and reconfigured a warehouse at an industrial unit near Comber, Co Down.
Turning it into a cannabis factory with 10 “growing rooms” over two floors, and accommodation for the illegal immigrants employed to look after the huge crop, the street value of the cannabis was estimated to be between £750,000 and £2.25million.
A fake business was set-up, purportedly supplying hydroponic and gardening equipment, as a cover for the criminal activities, and cash discovered in police raids was argued away as having come from highstakes poker wins.
After a £50,000 cash haul was discovered in Bui’s home back in 2013, his lawyer argued, “He played high-stakes poker in London and Vegas, and won vast sums of money.”
When police raided his Belfast home in 2017, Bui attempted to flush 3 mobile phones down a toilet.
Meanwhile, the prosecution claimed to have ‘CCTV surveillance evidence and fingerprints found on a tenancy agreement’ to link him to the cannabis factory.
They also described him as the head of “an organisation linked to a high-end crime gang operating on both sides of the Irish border” according to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
Luong Bui was also charged and convicted of “abstracting electricity” to the value of £35,000 for powering the growing rooms and received a 12-year sentence for cultivating the cannabis, stealing the electricity, and assisting unlawful immigration.
He was given a further three-year term for attempting to pervert the court of justice after the factories were discovered, and that’s where his appeal came in.
This week at the Court of Appeal, defence lawyers for Bui argued that it had been wrong to deal with that offence separately. Presiding judge, Mr Justice Fowler, stated a consecutive custodial term was “necessary” but that three years was “manifestly excessive”.
He confirmed: “The proper global sentence in this case is a sentence of 13 years imprisonment,” thus cutting two years from Bui’s total sentence.
Bui has only 4 recorded tournament results on the Hendon Mob database.
His first cash, for £15,500, came at the Gala Casinos Poker Tour in Nottingham back in 2008.
That was followed by a £56,000 3rd place at the GUKPT Main Event in 2010 booking him the spot in the Grand Final that he won later that year for £145k ($230k).
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