Police raided a cannabis cultivation operation in a remote mountain district in Nantou County yesterday, and uncovered what they described as the biggest cultivation operation in 20 years.
More than 500 plants were uprooted by investigators in what appeared in police videos to be steep, jungle-clad terrain. Along with the plants, 372 grams of seeds, and 176 grams of dried cannabis tops and leaves were taken as evidence. A 59 year-old man named Deng and his girlfriend were arrested.
Deng had previously been charged for cultivation of cannabis in 2016, and was sentenced to a 5 year prison term, but did not show up to serve his sentence. Deng went on the run while released on bail, and in June last year, returned to the remote mountains, built a wooden shack, and started growing cannabis.
At a press conference at the District Prosecutor’s Office in Nantou this morning, police and prosecutors said that the operation was the biggest marijuana cultivation operation uncovered in the last 20 years. However, the claim may refer only to Nantou County, as last year a man in New Taipei City was caught cultivating 600 plants in an indoor growing operation.
Police described the raid as difficult and dangerous due to the precipitous terrain and narrow, slippery roads. After gathering for the raid at 1:00am, vehicles slipped and slid as they made their way to the site in the dark. One vehicle slid off the road, leaving one of the front wheels hanging precariously in the air at the top of a steep decline into the valley below. The site was reached shortly after 4:00am.
Police claimed that at the current black market price of NT$2,000 per gram, the haul was worth in excess of NT$100 million. Liberty Times Network reported that it was fortunate that the operation was stopped in time, otherwise it is difficult to imagine the harm it could have caused to public safety.
Deng argued in his defense that the plants were for his own use and no trafficking was involved. He insisted that he was the only one involved in the cultivation operation and had no accomplices.
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