Taiwanese-American man busted for 'marijuana factory' in Taipei home

Taiwanese-American man arrested after police find marijuana growing in his apartment in Taipei

Chi (center).

Chi (center). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwanese-American man was arrested on Wednesday (Nov. 7) for allegedly running a "marijuana factory" (大麻工場) inside his apartment in Taipei City.

After surveilling the 42-year-old suspect, identified as Chi Yu-han (汲毓翰), since last month, police on Wednesday obtained a search warrant to enter his rented apartment on Yanping North Road in Taipei's Datong District. Once inside, they encountered Chi and his girlfriend surnamed Yu (余), and arrested them on the spot after finding a "marijuana narcotics factory" (大麻毒品工廠), including a marijuana plant, a 4 gram bag of dried cannabis leaves, lamps, an electric fan, a temperature and humidity monitor, a water sprinkler, and a plant growing tent, among other paraphernalia, reported Liberty Times.

Last month, the Taipei Criminal Investigation Division received a tip-off that an overseas Taiwanese returnee was suspected of growing marijuana in a rented residential property on Yanping North Road, reported China Times. They began to track his movements and, on Nov. 7, they obtained a warrant to search his residence.

According to an initial police investigation, Chi moved to the U.S. at the age of 15 and lived in the country for 20 years. However, at the age of 35, he decided to return to Taiwan. Although he could have avoided compulsory service in Taiwan's military if he had stayed overseas until the age of 37, he joined the Marine Corps in Taiwan, reported Liberty Times. He received his training at the Longquan Base in Pingtung and was praised in media reports at the time for his patriotism.

After completing his military service, Chi worked as an apprentice in a fried chicken shop, but felt overwhelmed by the "pressure," so he decided to start smoking and growing marijuana with his 59-year-old girlfriend Yu.

When questioned by police, Chi confessed that he had searched various communities and forums online beforehand to learn how to grow marijuana in his home. He ordered special appliances from abroad and asked Yu to collect cultivation equipment for him while working at her job in a hotel.

He then set up a tent in the apartment and began planting. Out of his first batch of plants, two out of three died and he found that the quality of the cannabis was inferior to what he had purchased in the U.S. When he began investigating ways to improve the quality of his products, police caught wind of his activities.

Chi and Yu were sent to the Shilin District Prosecutors' Office for questioning on suspicion of violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例). After a court hearing, the judge ordered that Yu be held incommunicado, while Chi was released on NT$200,000 (US$6,500) bail and ordered to be confined to his residence.

Marijuana plant found in Chi's home. (CNA image)

Unlike certain U.S. states and some Western countries where it is allowed for medical or recreational purposes, marijuana is classified as a category 2 narcotic under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act in Taiwan. Due to a spate of arrests of Americans for possession of marijuana in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (U.S. de facto embassy in the country) in March of last year posted a reminder to American citizens "that penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana) in Taiwan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines."