8 arrested for Taiwan’s largest-ever cannabis bust given jail terms

Two Taiwanese men who illegally ran a large cannabis farm in Taoyuan were given 11 years and nine years, respectively, by a court on Thursday, while six Indonesian migrant workers implicated in the incident were given sentences ranging from 30 to 34 months and will be deported after serving their time.

The incident came to light in September 2022 when prosecutors in Taoyuan, acting on a tip-off, discovered a cannabis farm containing 4,218 plants next to the base of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Army 601st Aviation Brigade, which they seized.

Prosecutors said this was the largest number of cannabis plants ever confiscated by Taiwan's authorities, and that the cannabis plants had a market value of about NT$1.26 billion (US$41.12 million).

According to the verdict issued by the Taoyuan District Court, the cannabis farm was set up by a Taiwanese man surnamed Wu (?) and another Taiwanese man surnamed Chen (?) in 2021. Chen later died, though the date was not specified in the verdict.

Wu funded the operation and provided technical guidance, while Chen was responsible for sourcing cannabis seeds, the verdict stated.

A third Taiwanese man, surnamed Ko (?), was brought in to do hard labor, while six Indonesian migrant workers who had illegally left their employment were hired to tend to, harvest, and process the plants, it stated.

All eight suspects have pleaded guilty.

Even though the cannabis did not find its way into the market, Wu and Ko had exposed society to the danger of an illegal substance, the court said.

Following an assessment of their involvement in the incident, the severity of their crimes, and the fact that they readily confessed, Wu and Ko were sentenced to serve 11 years and nine years, respectively, it said.

The six migrant workers had not known they were being hired to tend to cannabis plants and were having trouble finding new jobs after they found out that the job was illegal, it said.

They took part in the illegal activity because they had to support their families in Indonesia, which the court sympathized with and found was a sufficient reason to hand them reduced sentences ranging from 30 to 34 months, it said.

However, they will be deported after doing their time or after the remainder of their prison terms are waived, the court said.

Meanwhile, the money paid to Ko for his illegal work, totaling NT$490,000, will be confiscated, it said.

Three of the Indonesians had not received any wages, while the other three received monthly salaries of NT$30,000, which would be partly confiscated due to the fact that they have to support their families at home, it said.

The ruling can be appealed by prosecutors or the defendants.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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