Taiwan: Cannabis farmers sentenced

A court on Thursday handed two Taiwanese men who ran a large cannabis farm in Taoyuan 11-year and nine-year sentences respectively, while six Indonesian migrant workers implicated in the incident were given sentences from 30 to 34 months, and would be deported after serving time.

The farm came to light in September last year when prosecutors in Taoyuan received a tip-off about the farm containing 4,218 plants, which they seized, next to the base of the Aviation Special Forces 601st Brigade.

Prosecutors said this was the largest number of cannabis plants ever confiscated, and that the cannabis plants had a market value of about NT$1.26 billion (US$41.14 million).

The cannabis farm was set up by Taiwanese men surnamed Wu (吳) and Chen (陳) in 2021, the Taoyuan District Court said.

Chen later died, but the verdict did not specify when.

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

A third Taiwanese man, surnamed Ko (柯), was employed 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 said.

All eight suspects pleaded guilty.

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

The six migrant workers had not known they were hired to tend to cannabis plants, and had struggled to find new jobs after they realized 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 sufficient to hand them reduced sentences ranging from 30 to 34 months, it said.

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

The money paid to Ko for his illegal work, totaling NT$490,000, would 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 partially confiscated, as they have to support their families, it said.

The ruling can be appealed.

Source: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/03/04/2003795461

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