TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chiayi City police on Tuesday (Feb. 23) announced it had conducted the biggest seizure of plants from a marijuana growing operation in Taiwan's history and arrested two suspects.
On Tuesday, the Chiayi City Police Bureau held a press conference to announce it had seized over 1,600 marijuana plants worth over NT$500 million (US$18 million), setting a new record for the most plants confiscated from a grow operation in Taiwan. According to police, the suspects had rented 19 newly built apartments in Chiayi County and Chiayi City for about NT$30,000 to 40,000 per month each and used professional methods to grow cannabis indoors and collect the buds for processing and packaging, reported UDN.
Local police received a tip last November that a 34-year-old man surnamed Chou (周) was planting marijuana in the Chiayi area and harvesting it to make rolled cannabis cigarettes to sell for a handsome profit. According to an investigation by Chiayi prosecutors, Chou and his alleged accomplice, surnamed Li (李), selected new apartments and installed ventilation, filtration, and lighting systems inside while drawing the curtains to conceal their activities from neighbors.
They reportedly sealed the windows and air conditioner openings with decorative boards to prevent the smell of the plants from leaking out. The suspects packaged their illicit products in plastic containers with the label "Mountain High."
Chiayi County Police Bureau head Liao Hsun-cheng (廖訓誠) said that following a directive from the Chiayi District Prosecutor's Office, police on Sunday (Feb. 21) raided all 19 properties, seizing 1,421 live marijuana plants, 227 dried plants, 4 kilograms of dried marijuana tops, and equipment used to cultivate the plants, reported Liberty Times. The total value of the plants, products, and equipment seized is in excess of NT$500 million and marks the largest seizure of cannabis plants in the country's history, surpassing the 1,361 plants seized in August of last year.
(Chiayi County Police Bureau photo)
In the early hours of Tuesday morning (Feb. 23), police arrested Chou and Li and transferred them to the prosecutor's office to be investigated for violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).
According to an initial police investigation, the suspects served as a kind of "outsourced grower" to help others to cultivate cannabis, harvest the buds, dry them, package them, and then sell the finished products, reported CNA. A third suspect, surnamed Ho (何), is currently wanted for helping them rent the properties and monitor the growth of the plants.