An illegal immigrant has admitted to his role in growing more than 3800 cannabis plants at a rural Calderwood property that had a potential street value of more than $4.2 million.
Kim Seong Tang, 50, pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating a large commercial quantity of prohibited plants in Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday.
Agreed facts tendered to court said drug unit police were initially tipped off to reports cannabis was being grown at the Calderwood Road property and attended the site on May 11 last year.
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Police, after observing Dennis Chu enter the property, scaled the locked gated fence and started to smell cannabis coming from the greenhouses.
Police allegedly saw Chu enter the shed located nearby the greenhouse before they knocked on the door.
Chu allegedly walked outside where he claimed not be the owner but rather the "property manager".
Chu allegedly denied any knowledge of any cannabis on the property.
Officers seized 3852 cannabis plants ranging in height and maturity from inside four of the six greenhouses and one shed.
More than 2500 of the plants were mature while the rest were smaller.
Upon entering the shed, police found a makeshift home complete with mattresses, a kitchen, washing machine, tables and chairs and personal items. They found more mattresses and bunk beds in a small demountable office.
Police saw large drums of growing chemicals and soil additives as well as numerous drying racks, fans, mounted carbon filters and a box filled with dried cannabis stem remnants.
Mulch, fertiliser, plant food as well as dates of times of when to add the growing chemicals were also found along with pumps and a harvesting machine used to remove stems and leaves from plants.
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Police arrested Chu before finding Tang working near a large irrigating tank which had lines filtering to each plant.
Police said Tang, who is a Malaysian national in Australia illegally, was in the process of tending to the plants before he was arrested.
Police originally estimated the total street value of all the plants found in the greenhouses was $7.6 million but had since revised that figure, estimating the wholesale value to be at minimum $4.7 million for the mature plants.
Police said the wholesale value for a pound or 227 grams of cannabis was a minimum of $3300.
Tang's co-accused Dennis Chu is expected to enter guilty pleas in court next Wednesday.
Tang will be sentenced in Wollongong District Court. The case was adjourned to May 28.
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