York & North Yorkshire

Body dumped in Selby canal in cannabis profits dispute

A Chinese worker was beaten to death and his body dumped in a canal after a dispute over profits from a huge cannabis-growing operation.

The body of Chen Cai Guan, 38, was found at Burn Bridge near Selby, North Yorkshire, in March 2009.

Huang Bao Lung, 44, and Zhang Zhouli, 49, were found guilty of his murder at Leeds Crown Court in July.

A ban on the reporting of the convictions has been lifted following a trial related to the drug production.

Mr Chen's body was identified a month after it was found wrapped in bin liners in the canal.

A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Chen, who entered the UK illegally from Fujian in China in 2001, had been punched, kicked and stamped on.

He was killed by Huang and Zhang inside a cannabis factory in a warehouse at Elvington, near York, in January 2009 and attempts were then made to clean and cover up the blood.

A month later police raided the premises after a tip-off from the owner and 1,500 cannabis plants were discovered.

After Mr Chen's body was discovered police found evidence of his killing when they returned to the warehouse with dogs specially-trained to sniff out blood and human remains.

Huang, from Fujian in China, and Zhang, from Dong Bei, were handed life sentences in July with minimum terms of 18 years and 16 years respectively after being convicted of Mr Chen's murder.

'Brutal death'

Huang and Zhang will be sentenced for conspiracy to produce cannabis on Friday. Zhang admitted the charge while Huang was convicted of the offence on Thursday.

Four other men have been convicted of related offences.

Wang Shaozhe, 23, and Chen Xia Hua, 27, were found guilty of perverting the course of justice and pleaded guilty to cannabis production, receiving sentences of six years and nine months and four years and nine months respectively.

Image caption Huang Bao Lung (left) and Zhang Zhouli were given life sentences earlier this year

Zheng An, 31, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to cannabis production.

Wang Zhong Xiang, 41, pleaded guilty to money laundering and will be sentenced on Friday.

Det Supt Karnail Dulku said the case was "one of the most challenging investigations undertaken by North Yorkshire Police".

He said: "We were confident that we would solve the murder of the then unknown Oriental man whose life had been ended so brutally and such a long way from his homeland.

"Regardless of Mr Chen Cia Guan's involvement in illegal activity, we were determined to find those responsible for his death and seek justice.

"We have disrupted a large criminal gang, held them accountable for taking a life and dismantled their ability to produce cannabis, which in turn fuels other criminal activity such as money laundering, human trafficking and prostitution, a scourge of our communities."

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