A total of 16 members of an organized crime syndicate that used rental properties in north west England to set up marijuana farms have been sentenced to prison.

The drug ring, run by Vietnamese, reportedly set up marijuana plantations in houses in different cities including Preston, Liverpool and Blackpool, Blog Preston reported. Lancashire Police busted the ring and confiscated cannabis worth just under 1 million pounds (US$1,261,785).

Jack Nguyen, the 28-year-old leader of the drug ring was assisted by his girlfriend Than Thi Nguyen, 21. They reportedly made themselves attractive to landlords, sometimes by posing as a couple expecting a child or at other times carrying a newborn baby.

False names and papers were given when they rented the properties, payment for which was always in cash.

A total of 16 gang members were tried and convicted.

Detective Sergeant Stu Peall said some of the defendants falsely claimed to be victims of trafficking in attempts to avoid punishment.

Jack Nguyen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years and four months for conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and money laundering. For the same charges, Than Thi Nguyen was jailed for three years and nine months. The 16 gang members were given jail sentences totaling more than 35 years.