Sat, Apr 01, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Strawberry farmers arrested on marijuana charges

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Authorities in central Taiwan on Tuesday arrested two men for allegedly growing marijuana, later realizing the two suspects are well-known for growing strawberries at their farm.

Police in Taichung’s Chingshui District (清水) said an informant told them the two farmers, surnamed Wu (吳) and Lee (李), both of whom are 29 years old, were growing cannabis.

Police said the tip-off led them to a farm operated by the two men in Miaoli County’s Dahu Township (大湖), which is renowned for fruit production, especially strawberries.

Police seized 65 marijuana plants, 230g of cannabis flowers and 812g of dried cannabis leaves, which were estimated to have a total street value of NT$7 million (US$230,749), the Chingshui District Police Precinct said.

Wu and Lee, locally renowned strawberry farmers, started growing marijuana after coming across information on how to do so on the Internet, police said.

“We thought that marijuana is a natural plant and smoking it would have relatively little effect on the human body, which is why we wanted to apply our experience growing strawberries to cannabis plants,” police quoted Wu as saying.

Police said that Wu ordered cannabis seeds online from overseas, but his first batch of 30 plants failed due to his overdependence on strawberry cultivation techniques.

He later gained more knowledge on the Internet, which allowed him to successfully plant a second batch of 80 plants, they added.

Although Wu reportedly said that the cannabis products were for their personal use only, police informed the two men that they would be charged with breaching the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), which classifies marijuana, cannabis resin and other cannabis extracts as Class 2 illegal narcotics.

Separately, prosecutors on Thursday announced that raids in Taoyuan and Hsinchu County resulted in the seizure of 740g of heroin and 146kg of amphetamines and amphetamine byproducts with a street value of approximately NT$100 million.

A shotgun and 18 shells were also confiscated in the raids, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said.

The haul was the latest in a string of successful operations by Kaohsiung authorities, who seized 150g of amphetamines in an operation in the city’s Daliao District (大寮) in January.

Acting on a tip-off, prosecutors and police on Wednesday raided two locations in Taoyuan’s Bade District (八德) and Hsinchu’s Jhubei City (竹北) that were being used by drug dealers as warehouses, the office said.

Three suspects, surnamed Tseng (曾), Kuo (郭) and Huang (黃), were arrested in the operation, it added.

Also on Wednesday, Kaohsiung police seized 132g of drug-laced plum flakes and 64.2g of instant coffee mixed with narcotics in a car in the city’s Sanmin District (三民).

Police said they would investigate whether the car’s driver, a man surnamed Chen (陳), who has a drug-related criminal record, was involved in drug trafficking, although he reportedly told police he bought the drugs for NT$23,000 for his personal use.

Additional reporting by CNA

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