Judge rejects change of plea application from Tralee drugs accused

The Circuit Criminal Court has rejected an application for a change of plea from two men charged in connection with a massive cannabis seizure in Tralee two years ago. Gavel 1 Vietnamese nationals, Tran Hoa and Cao Son Nguyen, had applied to change their plea to not guilty having originally pleaded guilty to a number of charges. The case relates to the discovery of a cannabis grow-house in Clash, Tralee in 2013 during which cannabis plants with a street value of €1.3 million were discovered. Tran Hoa and Cao Son Nguyen, who were then aged 28 and from Vietnam, were arrested at the warehouse in Clash Industrial Estate on October 21st, 2013. With an estimated value of €1.3million, it was one of the largest ever seizures of cannabis in Kerry. Almost two years later, neither man has yet been sentenced and the case has been repeatedly adjourned. Sitting at Limerick Circuit Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell heard an application from the accused to change their pleas to guilty. This came in the context of allegations made at an earlier hearing that Tran Hoa was a victim of human trafficking. Judge O’Donnell said however that this wasn’t a matter for the court but one for the gardaí. Gardaí presented an affidavit to the court which rejected accusations of trafficking. The judge said he had read the case file and both men had pleaded guilty since they were first charged. He adjourned sentencing to Tralee Circuit Criminal Court in October.