Drugs gang jailed

A gang of eight Chinese nationals who helped set up a £1.6m cannabis empire in the city were sentenced to a total of 22 years today.

A gang of eight Chinese nationals who helped set up a £1.6m cannabis empire in the city were sentenced to a total of 22 years today.

The six men and two women posed as UEA students, paying £30,000 in cash to rent eight properties across Norwich, which were each adapted to grow hundreds of high-strength cannabis plants.

Police found hundreds of plants at a property in Brettingham Avenue, Cringleford, after acting on a tip off from a neighbour in April, and were then led to other houses where the drug was being grown in Eaton and Thorpe St Andrew.

Sentencing them to periods ranging from 15 months to four-and-a-half years, Judge Peter Jacobs said they would have been given much longer terms if they had been proven to be ringleaders in the gang.


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However he said there was not enough evidence to show what their roles had been beyond reasonable doubt.

The defendants claimed they were just paid as 'gardeners' to water the crops.

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Yan Fu Zhang, 28, and his girlfriend Jin Chen, 23, of Robson Road, West Earlham, who previously denied charges of conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis, were sentenced to four-and-a-half years and three years and three months respectively.

Shuang Cao, 25, and Shen Chow, 28, also of Robson Road, who admitted the same charges, received four-and-a-half years and three years.

Twins Guo Ren Chen, of Hassocks, West Sussex, and Guo Fa Chen, from Earlham Grove, Earlham, both 38, were sentenced to 18 months and two-and-a-half years, and brothers Xing Lin, 25, and Guang Lin, 27, of Howlett Drive, Bowthorpe, were given 15 months and two years and three months.

They were all recommended for deportation.

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