Asian with 57 pot plants victim of racial profiling, judge says
VANCOUVER — A B.C. judge has thrown out the evidence against an Asian man stopped with 57 marijuana plants in his trunk after ruling he had been a victim of racial profiling.
Zai Chong Huang was pulled over in January 2009 as he travelled along a road in 100 Mile House, B.C., about 430 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. A search of his truck turned up the potted plants, a timer, a bottle of liquid fertilizer and 150 empty plant pots, and Huang was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
The officer, identified in court documents only as Const. Berze, said he'd pulled Huang over for swerving twice in his own lane. However, after reviewing circumstantial evidence, Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Bayliff decided Berze did so only because of his own prejudice against Asian people.
The most damning evidence came in an interview between Berze and Huang on the night of the incident.
"You must be guilty as shit," Berze is quoted as saying in an interview transcript. "You're probably a gang member, aren't you? An Asian gang from Surrey, right? Well you're not saying anything so it must be true . . . . If I were the Canadian government I'd kick your ass right out of Canada is what I'd do.
"You come into my country and you start trafficking dope around. That's bullshit. My wife and kids live here in 100 Mile House, and pieces of shit like you are gonna come in. And if they are trafficking drugs in my hometown, I do not like it at all."
Huang, whose first language is Cantonese, only gave short replies indicating he did not understand.
Bayliff called the outburst a display of Berze's own anger.
"(Berze) demonstrates that he is personally very angry at a particular group of people of Asian extraction — those who are associated with organized crime, particularly the production and trafficking of marijuana and other drugs," she said. "He demonstrates enmity to that group of people. Further, he assumes that Mr. Huang is part of that group."
Around the same time Berze pulled Huang over, Berze's colleague, Const. Manseau, stopped another Asian man, whose vehicle also contained marijuana plants, a few kilometres behind. That man turned out to be Huang's twin brother, Zai Qing.
Manseau said he, too, pulled the man over for swerving in his lane. Bayliff noted the coincidence might not mean anything on its own, but "it is the whole of the evidence and all of the circumstances that must be considered."
She went on to say she found it "more probable than not" that Berze saw Huang, and perhaps his brother, at a gas station earlier on and followed Huang's vehicle, looking for a reason to pull it over.
Bayliff concluded by saying the principle issue is that it is a fundamental liberty for people to be able to move about the country freely without improper police interference.
"In my view, when I balance the public interest in seeing this prosecution proceed against the charter value at issue, I conclude that to admit evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."
Four Men Jailed For 20 Years After Police Uncover 15mil Cannabis
Four men have been jailed for a total of more than 20 years after police seized the largest amount of cannabis ever found in Britain worth a staggering £15 million. The monumental find in October 2008 included a mountain of cannabis weighing over 3.2 tons plus amphetamine worth £10,000 and £170,000 in cash. Detectives found the secret lock-up was being used to store the 180 boxes of cannabis each weighing 44lbs plus 40 flower boxes containing skunk. They even found a hidden room for stashing drugs behind a cupboard. They also found tell-tale signs of a major drug operation at the garage floor scales and equipment for grinding cannabis. Robert Price, 55, of Leeds, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and being concerned in the supply of amphetamines and was jailed for eight years.
Scott Weaver, 30, also of Leeds, admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamines, being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession of a prohibited weapon. He was jailed for five years and three months. Andrew Lee, 46, formerly of Wakefield, had previously admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis resin. His brother Graham Lee, 43, formerly of Leeds, admitted supplying amphetamines, supplying cannabis and assisting an offender. Both were jailed for three years and four months. Price, a businessman and property dealer was the 'lynchpin' in the operation to store and distribute the drugs, Leeds Crown Court heard on Thursday. He owned several properties and luxury cars and had 100,000 pounds stashed under the floorboards of his home.
Andrew Lee was employed as his 'patsy' who hired the unit in Wakefield, West Yorks., and was responsible for warehousing the drugs. The operation was smashed after gangsters from the Merseyside area delivered the drugs, thought to have been smuggled to the UK from Spain, and were followed by police. Amphetamines were also seized from a property in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, where Price's son-in-law Weaver ran his own operation processing and dealing the drug. Graham Lee who originally fled to Benidorm after the seizure in October 2008 was arrested on his return to the UK. Judge Kerry Macgill said: 'Criminals placed a considerable amount of trust in Price. The cannabis found was a huge amount. This was a professional operation on a grand scale.' Det Insp Stuart Spencer, of West Yorkshire Police, said: 'This investigation was protracted involving a sophisticated criminal gang with associates across Europe. They were extremely conversant with the importation of commodities and their distribution throughout the north. 'Removing this network undoubtedly had an impact upon the availability of drugs, minimizing the misery they bring to communities.
Travel Agency And Clothing Store Were Fronts For Marijuana Operation
Five men were arrested this week on suspicion of cultivating about 400 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $200,000 inside a Montrose clothing store, travel agency and home, police said. The bust on the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue took place at Blue Seas travel agency, which also sold medical supplies, and Fast Fashion high-end clothing store all of which police said were being used as fronts for sophisticated indoor-marijuana growing operations, Sgt.
Tom Lorenz said. "All you have to do is walk up to the front of the building and smell the marijuana," he said. The businesses had been converted into a full scale cultivation operation that included lights, ventilation and 381 marijuana plants, Lorenz said.
Fire Leads Cops To Cannabis House
Firefighters stumbled on a mature cannabis crop inside a house that caught fire in Melbourne's southwest. Fire crews went to the home in Egret Court, Werribee, just before 6.30pm on Saturday after neighbors reported smoke billowing from the roof.
They found three rooms containing about 18 mature cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment. Werribee CIU detectives are investigating the cause of the blaze, but no one was at the home at the time of the fire. Police are still searching for the people who were residing at the residence but as of yet no luck. The cannabis plants were obviously being grown for the purpose of distribution and the growth op may very well of been the reason for the fire.
Some Minnesota Schools Target Synthetic Marijuana
It can be made to look like tobacco, herbal incense or a typical baking spice. But it packs twice as much of the active ingredient in marijuana, and the side effects can be life-threatening. Synthetic marijuana is legal for all ages and typically sold as an incense. Officials are seeing more of it in St. Cloud- area schools. Several Minnesota cities have banned the substance, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plans to temporarily control five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana. But St. Cloud school district chemical health counsellor Dan Becker said that isn't enough, because people who make synthetic marijuana can just create a new chemical recipe to get around a ban.
Becker has become the area's expert on synthetic marijuana. In his small office at McKinley Area Learning Centre, he has dozens of packages of synthetic marijuana that have been taken from students. "A year ago you couldn't find it anywhere," Becker said. But now synthetic marijuana can be purchased in local shops and online. Becker said the use of the substance has expanded quickly because it's so easy to buy on the Internet. Users describe switching from marijuana to synthetic marijuana as like switching from Coke to Diet Coke. The first time they use it, they can get sick or just dislike it.
"It's an acquired taste," Becker said. But once users get used to it, they never go back to marijuana, he said. The buzz is stronger, it's cheaper, and it's more accessible. It's also difficult for parents to detect. The substance doesn't have a scent; some manufacturers mix it with fragrances such as strawberry or cookies and cream. "How can marijuana compete with that?" Becker said. Every maker is his or her own chemist, mixing different chemicals to get the effects they want, Becker said. Then those combined chemicals are mixed with an organic substance so it can be smoked.
Car Crashes Into Man's Home And Exposes Marijuana Farm
An Ellicott City man has more than just insurance claims to worry about after a car crashed into his home earlier this month. Police say the crash revealed that 44 year old Richard Marriott had an indoor marijuana farm. Marriott and another person were uninjured when a BMW driven by 20 year old Bryan Bolster crashed into Marriott's house and burst into flames on Dec. 10. Bolster died in the crash.
Howard County police say fire investigators were inspecting Marriott's home for structural damage when they found the drugs. Police got a search warrant and found what they describe as an extensive growing operation, with nearly 20 large marijuana plants. Marriott was arrested Wednesday and is being held on $15,000 bond. Court records show he also faces trial next month on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
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