A GANG of 16 Chinese people were jailed yesterday after police uncovered the largest-ever cannabis factory in the UK, in Bangor.
They also uncovered other factories across North Wales – recovering a total 17,960 plants with an estimated annual street value yield of almost £14m.
Yesterday the gang’s “Mr Big”, Bo Xing He, 31, was jailed for nine years after he admitted running the “absolutely enormous” operation at industrial premises in Bangor, Colwyn Bay, Conwy and Wrexham.
Another seven men and eight women were sentenced to between two and five-and-a-half years each for conspiracy to produce cannabis.
The court heard He had lived a life of luxury at a rented six-bedroom house in Gannock Park, Deganwy, where police found £130,000 and an S-type Jaguar. Sentencing He to a total of nine years jail, after hearing how he’d paid wages to gang members working under him, the judge, Recorder Nic Parry, said: “You were at the head of an absolutely enormous conspiracy.
“You controlled all the properties and the workers and lived a luxury lifestyle at the control centre.”
“The outlay was enormous and indicative of the profit that you made or hoped to make. The figures are frankly staggering.”
But He’s defence lawyer Jim Conod said he found himself running the operation because he had no British passport nor one to return to China.
His lawyer Jim Conod said: “He’s in limbo. There are others who act above him and have put pressure on him.”
“He was relieved that it was all over in at least he was not going to have to undertake this operation any further.”
He’s girlfriend, Xin Zhang, 24, an IT graduate was useful to the gang because of her understanding of English and worked as a secretary for He.
She was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in custody after the judge placed her in a category of “managers” and heard she’d escaped from custody in St Asaph, before being rearrested.
Another woman, Tuquyen Lam, 47 was also a “middle manager” who also escaped custody.
The court heard she was a mother of three and had been in the UK since 1980, having come over as a Vietnamese boat person. She was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Two men, Bao Chen, and Zhao Di Wu, and four women, Xi Rong Chen, Hua He, Aiyun Lu and Zhu Yun Wang all accepted their role as “gardeners or cultivators”.
They were found out after a member of the public saw two people carrying black bin bags smelling of cannabis into a house on Mayflower Drive, Wrexham, where the drugs were being packaged.
Sentencing them to two years jail, the judge said they were “as much victims as offenders”
Qin Guo Wu, Hong Yu, Xia Ping, Bao Chen and a female, Yu Ting, were also “gardeners and sentenced to two years custody.”
Minh Chi Lam, had a previous conviction for growing cannabis and was sentenced to 25 months.
Guo Jin Lin’s part was more serious and had a part in transferring money to China and was sentenced to 3.5 years.
After serving 12 months sentence all but Tuquyen Lam will all be deported as illegal immigrants
The 16 had all pleaded guilty to conspiring to produce cannabis between January 26 and June 8 this year.
Mr Parry said this type of offending was reaching epidemic proportions in the UK.
Praising police he said: “This has been an extremely important police operation in North Wales.
“It has ensured that potentially devastating harm has been avoided.”