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2 charged; Bucks home a pot factory, say cops

There was something strange about the home on Mink Road in Bedminster Township, Bucks County.

There was something strange about the home on Mink Road in Bedminster Township, Bucks County.

No one shoveled the snow from the walk or driveway. Lights went on and off at the same time every day. The blinds in every window were drawn, cars came and left, and trash cans were never at the curb on garbage day.

And there was a strange odor detectable from the street.

Today, police said they had charged two Philadelphia men in connection with a sophisticated hydroponic marijuana-growing operation found at the home.

Hung Trung Nguyen, 48, of the 5400 block of Large Street, and Van Tran Nghiep, 42, of the 2200 block of East York Street, were charged with drug manufacturing, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy. Nguyen is in the country illegally, police said.

"This is one of the largest marijuana seizures in Bucks County," said Michelle Henry, the county's district attorney. She estimated the 1,200 plants seized by law enforcement to be worth more than $3 million.

According to court documents, a neighbor called police in February to report an odd odor coming from the home. Soon after, police set up surveillance of the home and observed the men carrying bags of agriculture supplies into the residence. In March, one of the men removed 90 large plastic trash bags from the house and drove away in a van.

"These two were caretakers," Henry said.

Inside the home, police said they found the plants in various stages of growth, nurtured with fertilizer and grow lights. The entire basement was used as a nursery. On the first floor, police found equipment used to manufacture and package marijuana. The home's ventilation system was specially designed to vent the heat and odor out of the roof fan.

The property was purchased for $285,000 by Huong La, 42, in February 2007, court records show.

Henry said authorities are investigating whether anyone else was involved. A search warrant also was served in connection with the case on a residence in Chester County. She said she expected additional charges from Chester County for the two men.