Chinese nationals get four years for cultivating cannabis
Four Chinese men have been jailed for four years for their involvement in a sophisticated cannabis grow house.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the men were living in a warehouse in Ballyboughal, Richardstown, Co. Dublin and looked after roughly 1,500 cannabis plants.
Guoyong Lin (35), En Xing Weng (38), Ming Liu (30) and Hua Ping Lin (27), all of whom are of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis at the warehouse on February 7, 2012.
Garda Declan Fitzgerald, of Coolock Garda station, told Mr Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that a search warrant was attained for a commercial premises in Co. Dublin last February.
The court heard that gardai gained entry to the warehouse by removing a security door and found the four Chinese nationals inside.
The men had been living in an upstairs area of the building, where laptops and bedding were found. There was also a small kitchen area in another part of the warehouse.
Gda Fitzgerald described the operation as "significant" and "professional". He said there were roughly 1,500 cannabis plants in total, and about 500 of which were mature and ready to harvest.
He said there was also a significant amount of processed cannabis in the building, which had been dried and bagged.
Gda Fitzgerald said the processed drugs had a street value of about €250,000.
The total potential value of all drugs on the premises was estimated as between €400,000 and €600,000.
The court heard that the men had been hired by a significant Chinese gang operating in Ireland, and only stood to earn a small amount of money for looking after the plants.
Cross examined by Mr Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, defending Mr Liu, Gda Fitzgerald agreed that the men were at the “very bottom of the ladder” of the operation.
He also accepted that the men could be classed as “economically vulnerable” and had been targeted by a “significant Chinese gang”.
Gda Fitzgerald said that the gang had tampered with electrical wires to avoid detection by the ESB, and said it had clearly been carried out on a very professional level.
Judge Martin Nolan said it was impossible not to feel “a certain degree of sorrow for these men.”
He added: “They came here from China. They came to this part of the world seeking a better life, looking to send money back home to their families.”
Judge Nolan accepted that their role in the operation was to look after the plants and said their reward for doing this was quite small.
“But if the gardai hadn’t upset this operation, it was going to produce a huge amount of cannabis,” he added.
Judge Nolan took into account their guilty pleas and that the men are foreign nationals and had gotten involved due to economic distress. He also noted that none of the men have any previous convictions.
“These four gentlemen are mature and old enough to make up their own minds,” he said.
Adding: “They understood what they were doing was illegal, and what they were doing was wrong, and so I must sentence them.
Judge Nolan sentenced the four men to four years in prison, backdated to their date of arrest.