Wednesday 26 July 2017

Chinese farmers tricked into growing cannabis

Declan Brennan

CHINESE farmers answered an advert for a gardening job and were tricked into joining a cannabis growing operation, a court heard.

The two men from farming families in China answered an advert offering positions as flower growers in Ireland.

But the men were forced to live in a humid industrial lock-up in close proximity to chemicals, and noise created by the air conditioning system installed to grow the plants.

Xiabin Huang (30) and Yong Chen (35), both of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the cultivation of cannabis plants at Millennium Business Park, Cappagh Road, Ballycoolin, on March 7, 2012.

The 900 plants discovered at the industrial unit had an estimated total marked value of around €800,000. One of the men was never paid the money he was promised for his work.

Desperate

Judge Martin Nolan said the men were economic migrants who had carried out a "crime of desperation". He imposed sentences of two years on both.

He said that the men, who are both fathers, came to this country to better their lives.

Garda Colm Grogan said the men shared a mattress on the floor and had only a hand basin to wash themselves.

He described their living conditions as "horrendous". The unit was fitted with florescent lights, fertilisers and extractor fans to grow the plants.

Feargal Kavanagh SC, defending Chen, said money lenders in China had lent his client money to come to Ireland and that since this offence they have taken the home of his family.

He said his client stupidly believed he could make a lot of money by taking care of plants and that he only realised it was a big cannabis operation when he arrived here.

His client felt sorry for his crime and aggrieved at ever taking the job offer because it was a "complete disaster".

Irish Independent

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