A Chinese man who delivered food and supplies to cannabis grow houses around the country has avoided jail on the understanding that he will be deported.
A large-scale Garda surveillance operation observed Chang Hui Wang (34 ) making deliveries to grow houses located in two Chinese restaurants in Wexford and Mayo and an industrial premises in Roscommon.
The grow houses contained a total of 3,000 mature plants with a Garda estimated street value of €2.4 million. At a district court appearance last year Wang was described as a “significant figure” with regard to cannabis grow houses.
Yesterday (Thursday January 30 ) Judge Mary Ellen Ring said that Wang was higher up than the normal “gardener” who comes before the courts but that he was not the main beneficiary of the operations.
She took into account his lack of previous convictions and his co-operation with gardaí before imposing a six year term, suspended on condition he consents to deportation by the Department of Justice.
The court heard much of the evidence against Wang came from his interviews and a ledger he kept detailing his activities.
Wang with an address at Foxborough Hall, Lucan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal court to three counts of aiding and abetting the cultivation of cannabis between August and December 2012 at China House on Main Street, Kiltimagh in Mayo; Yummy House Restaurant in Campile, Wexford, and at an industrial premises at Johnstown Demesne, Athlone in Roscommon.
Detective Garda John Paul Carroll told prosecuting counsel Garret Baker BL that a surveillance operation observed Wang transporting food and clothing to the grow houses and ferrying “gardeners” to the different premises.
On nine occasions he was seen in hardware stores buying cultivation supplies for the grow house including lights, insulation, and fertilizer.
Det Gda Carroll said he had also negotiated the rent for the Mayo premises and was responsible for paying it every month on behalf of a third party.
Wang was arrested on December 19, 2012 and the grow houses were raided. Each contained about 1,000 mature plants, worth €800 apiece.
Gardaí searched Wang’s apartment and found several laptops, Stg£2,100 and a ledger detailing his activities and the money he was paid. It stated he was paid €200 for each delivery.
Defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC said that Wang came here in 2000 on a student visa before marrying and starting a family.
Counsel said he became involved in the grow houses after falling into financial difficulties. He said he co-operated fully with gardaí when caught and entered an early guilty plea.
Mr O’Higgins also submitted that when Wang is deported, his family will remain here, meaning they will endure significant financial hardship.
Judge Ring accepted this was “a considerable penalty”.