Delays to legal case involving £753,000 of cannabis seized in Buckie
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The Home Office has been blamed for delays surrounding a legal case about the seizure of £753,000 of cannabis in Buckie.
Earlier today Sheriff Margaret Neilson threatened to summon a Home Office official to her court to explain the continuing delay in deciding whether two Vietnamese men were human trafficked.
Chien Le (27) and Thong Nguyn (34) have been charged with supplying and producing controlled drugs following a raid on the Highlander Hotel in Buckie last September.
The pair have now been in custody for over seven months.
According to the Lord Advocate's guidelines, anyone who has been human trafficked should be deported rather than prosecuted.
Both men, who are of no fixed abode, made no plea when they appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court immediately after the hotel raid.
Their case called once more today.
Sheriff Neilson expressed her frustration that no progress can be made on the case until the Home Office make a decision.
Defence lawyers Matthew O'Neill and Ben Thom stated they had made efforts to speed things along, but had been unsuccessful in finding out when a decision will be made.
Fiscal depute Robert Weir stated he had also attempted to get information from the Home Office.
Sheriff Neilson said: "I may call someone from the Home Office to explain what is the reason for the delay.
"It may do some good, it may not."
Police raided the Moray hotel on September 20.
At least a dozen evidence bags were subsequently stacked in the back of a police van, with officers appearing to struggle to find space for them all.
Parcels stuffed with leafy green plants were also carried out by officers, some of whom wore masks.
Detective Sergeant Scott McKay described the find as a "significant seizure".
The Highlander Hotel had been closed for more than a year prior to the police raid.
It is understood the suspected illegal operation was reported to police by locals who had concerns about what was going on inside.
Parents of children who attend a primary school close to the hotel had also reported unusual smells emanating from the site.