Jail for cannabis factories gang
The man behind one of the largest cannabis operations in the UK has been jailed for nine years.
Bo Xing He, 31, ran a series of cannabis factories across north Wales producing drugs with an estimated annual street value of almost £14m.
Caernarfon Crown Court was told that the cannabis factory in High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd, was believed to be the largest ever found in the UK.
Another 15 defendants were sentenced to between two and five-and-a-half years.
Bo Xing He, who admitted to conspiring to produce cannabis, was described by the judge as "head of an absolutely enormous conspiracy" who controlled the properties and workforce.
The court heard that he had lived at a rented six-bedroom house in exclusive Gannock Park, Deganwy, Llandudno, and there was evidence of a lavish lifestyle.
Police found £130,000 and an S-type Jaguar.
The judge, Recorder Nic Parry, said he took account of the guilty plea but this type of offending was reaching epidemic proportions in the country.
He said: "This has been an extremely important police operation in north Wales.
"It has ensured that potentially devastating harm has been avoided."
Almost 18,000 cannabis plants were recovered in total with more than 11,000 found on the site of a former builders' merchants in Bangor.
The court heard that this site was suspected of being the largest cannabis factory ever discovered in the UK.
Industrial premises were used across north Wales including sites in Wrexham and Colwyn Bay.
Other men and women involved in the plot were also jailed for their roles in the conspiracy.
The defendants included Bo Xing He's 24-year-old girlfriend, Zin Zhang, who was effectively working as his secretary, the court was told.
She was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Another woman, Tuquyen Lam, who was said to have played something of a marginal role, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.
Guo Jin Lin, whose role was said to have been transferring money to China, was also jailed for three-and-a-half years.
A further 12 people, who were said to have played a "gardening role" looking after the plants, were also jailed.
The judge said many of them were victims because they were working to pay off debts but, without them, there would have been no plants.