TUAN Dac Trinh came to Australia in 2016 after accruing a debt in Vietnam.
To pay it off, he agreed to work as a crop sitter, keeping watch over 275 cannabis plants in an otherwise empty house at Heddon Greta for about 12 days in February, 2018.
The 38-year-old was told he would be paid $1000 a week, but never saw any money.
Kim Phuong, 50, had racked up a $7000 debt in Victoria. He agreed to watch over 235 cannabis plants in a house at Morpeth for three weeks.
He was promised $500 a week but, again, didn't see a cent.
Instead, Phuong and Trinh, as well as two other Vietnamese nationals who undertook the high-risk, low paying jobs as crop sitters at six Maitland homes, were the ones left holding the bag when police smashed the sophisticated $2.8 million cannabis operation in February, 2018.
Both men pleaded guilty to cultivating a large commercial quantity of a prohibited plant and on Friday they were both jailed for a maximum of three years and four months, with a non-parole period of two years.
The two men are likely to be deported to Vietnam when they are ultimately released from jail.
Last week, Vuong Luu Quoc, 27, and 26-year-old Anh Quang Pham - who kept watch over hundreds of cannabis plants at Tenambit - were jailed for their roles in the cannabis ring.
Quoc, who was in Australia illegally, was jailed for a maximum of two-and-a-half years, with a non-parole period of 18 months.
While Pham will be eligible for parole in May after he was jailed for a maximum of two years and three months, with a non-parole period of one year and three months.
Their cases are among a surge during the last five years of organised crime syndicates using suburban Hunter homes as grow houses.
And they highlight how the shadowy high-ranking members of those syndicates prey on the weaker members of Australia's Vietnamese community.
Those who are tasked with crop sitting, literally living in a house full of cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment, considered the absolute lowest rung of any criminal syndicate, almost always have no criminal record and have no special expertise in growing cannabis.
They are university students who have dropped out and are too ashamed to ask for help from home.
There are those who have overstayed their visas, need cash and are scared or mistrusting of Australian authorities. Or, as was the case with Phuong and Trinh, they have racked up considerable debts.