Jail and then deportation for £1m drug bust Chinese man
An illegal Chinese immigrant who was caught red-handed cultivating £1 million worth of cannabis plants in three different locations in Northern Ireland was jailed for two years and eight months at Londonderry Crown Court yesterday.
Liang Sheng Wu (50), an unemployed man of no fixed abode, will be deported to China after release.
He was the gardener in what Judge Philip Babington described as a sophisticated criminal operation set up to make those in charge a great deal of money.
The three cannabis factories were found in warehouses in Omagh in September 14, in Millisle in December 2014, and in Magherafelt in May 2015.
Each warehouse had roller shutters, and six temporary rooms had been built inside them.
Five of the rooms were for the cultivation of cannabis and the sixth room was used as living quarters.
In total, the police recovered 2,000 cannabis plants.
Wu was linked to all three cannabis factories by fingerprint and DNA evidence found on cigarettes and water bottles.
He was arrested in the Magherafelt cannabis factory in May 2015 and forensically linked to the other two factories.
The court was told Wu came to Northern Ireland on a six-month visa in 2006. Initially he worked in Chinese takeaways and in a fish factory in Kilkeel, and sent money back to his family in China.
His solicitor described the nine months Wu spent in custody following his arrest last May as a nightmare for the defendant.
He said when the fish factory closed in 2014 Wu, who was then homeless, was approached by someone who said he was setting up a cannabis factory. The solicitor said Wu gave in to the temptation to have a roof over his head and to send money back to his family and agreed to become involved in what he knew was a criminal operation.
Jailing Wu, Judge Babington said it was a sophisticated criminal operation. "It is clear from his interviews with the police that he was taken to the three factories in the hours of darkness and that he, and no doubt others, were visited on occasions by more senior people in the organisation who brought them food and other essentials," he said.
"This was clearly a sophisticated enterprise. This man was clearly caught red-handed and it is more than probable that the same gang was involved in all of these three operations," Judge Babington added.
A bench warrant was also issued for Wu's co-defendant who absconded while on bail and who is believed to have fled back to China.