Ten Vietnamese were arrested and HK$38 million worth of marijuana seized during a police raid of two industrial building units in Tuen Mun and Yau Tong.
The operation resulted in the confiscation of over 2,000 cannabis plants and 24 kilos of marijuana leaves with a market value of HK$38 million, the largest in 27 years, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Four of those arrested on Wednesday are holders of Hong Kong identity cards while the six others are illegal migrants paid HK$5,100 a month to work at the two indoor farms, according to Ming Pao Daily.
Police have also frozen the assets of the suspects, including HK$7.21 million in cash and HK$100,000 worth of jewelry.
Authorities are pursuing leads to trace the group’s distribution network.
The two marijuana farms have the same basic setup, police said. Air-conditioning and heat lamps were used to to create a greenhouse environment while all the windows were sealed with wooden planks and aluminum foil.
An LPG burner was also used to produce more carbon dioxide in order to speed up the growth of the cannabis plants.
There were also cooking utensils and makeshift beds in the units for the illegal workers, who were not allowed to leave the units.
Arrangement has been made for their salaries to be sent to their families in Vietnam each month.
Police Senior Superintendent Yip Wan-lung said each plant could produce about 100 grams of herbal cannabis in a three-month cycle.
Superintendent Ng Wing-sze of the Narcotics Bureau said the operation was the result of several months of investigation and research.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said cultivation or manufacture of prohibited drugs is an offense under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, carrying a penalty of as much as HK$5 million and a jail term of up to 15 years.
According to data from the police narcotics division, the overall number of reported drug users, specially of ketamine and “ecstasy”, fell 8 percent from 2015 to last year, but users of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and cough medicine have increased drastically.
A total of 228 kilos of marijuana were confiscated in 2016 alone, up 75 percent from the previous year.
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