Six men described at a trial in Birmingham Crown Court as a ‘South East Asian Organised Crime Group’ have been jailed for over 26 years for drug smuggling.
The gang were caught by police following reports of suspicious activity including large numbers of couriered, cardboard-boxed packages from overseas delivered to several luxury apartments at the Orion Building in Navigation Street, Birmingham earlier this year. A mobile phone number on one of the packages was found on a similar package intercepted by Customs and containing a large amount of cannabis.
On 2 January as police arrived to view the building’s CCTV, a BMW, one of several cars linked to the occupants of the flats involved, entered the car park. Believing that a drug deal was imminent, the officers called for back-up and set up surveillance. Two passengers were seen to enter the complex and later returned carrying large laundry bags which they placed in the boot of the car.
Officers moved in to arrest all three, driver Michael Chung and passengers - Xin Lin and Kang Wu. In the boot of the car they found three vacuum packed bags containing large amounts of cannabis.
As they waited for transport to police custody, two further men exited the apartment complex smelling strongly of cannabis. They were searched and officers found the first - Ciang Zheng - carrying a large quantity of cash, a lock knife and a set of keys to an apartment. The second - Ching Loo - was carrying several notebooks which were later found to be detailed ledgers itemising cannabis transactions to the value of over £21million.
Back in the building officers found a sixth suspect, Xie Peng, in a lift with more laundry bags containing several more vacuum packed bags of cannabis concealed under clothing.
Four apartments in the building were searched where officers found cannabis in each with an estimated total value of over half a million pounds. Scales and air extraction units were also found.
A seventh suspect - Yu Weixin - was stopped on John Bright Street a short time later in another linked BMW in possession of a key fob for one of the apartments.
All seven were charged with conspiracy to supply cannabis and after a four week trial six were found guilty and 27-year-old Kang Wu was acquitted.
The six were jailed on Tuesday (23 July) as follows:
• Michael Chung, (top left) aged 43 of Hollands Drive, Bloxwich - seven years
• Xin Lin, (top middle) aged 29 of no fixed address - seven years
• Ching Loo, (top right) aged 51 of Brookside, Wednesbury - five years