A Malaysian citizen who immigrated to Australia illegally has pleaded guilty to his role in a multi-million dollar cannabis operation in Calderwood, New South Wales.
50-year-old Kim Seong Tang faced Wollongong Local Court on April 28th, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis. Tang was arrested on May 11th last year after police received a tip-off and raided the Calderwood farm.
Police originally observed another man – Dennis Chu – near the greenhouses on the property. According to statements made in court, police watched Chu enter a shed nearby, then approached him. Chu denied knowing about the cannabis farm and claimed he was just the “property manager”.
Later, police discovered that the shed had been converted into a home equipped with mattresses, tables, chairs, a washing machine, an office, and a kitchen.
While searching the property, police discovered 3,852 cannabis plants inside four greenhouses and another shed. At least 2,500 of these plants were mature and the rest were still seedlings.
Tang was later spotted tending to the cannabis plants, which were being watered via a large irrigation tank. Both Tang and Chu were arrested at the scene. Like Tang, Chu is expected to plead guilty when he faces court next Wednesday.
During Tang’s court appearance, police described the operation as extremely sophisticated. They located growing chemicals, soil additives, drying racks, fans, carbon filters, pumps, and a harvesting machine at the scene and believe the operation had been underway for some time.
Police originally valued the cannabis seized in Calderwood at $7.6 million but later reduced this figure to $4.7 million. Last year, Acting Inspector Dave Williamson told the ABC that the operation was well hidden.
It was a well thought out operation and I think the impact this operation will have on supply will be significant. Given the rural setting of the property I don’t think the greenhouses attracted attention initially.
Now that Tang has pleaded guilty, he will be sentenced in Wollongong District Court in the next few months. His case has been adjourned to May 28th.