The pursuit of the Australian dream has landed five foreigners in prison after their search for a “better life” led them to work on one of the most lucrative cannabis farms in WA history The five men, aged between 29 and 51, were living in Melbourne when in 2022 they were offered work in a rural property in the tiny Wheatbelt town of Kokeby, near Beverley. The job at the Bellrock Road property promised a $2000 a week salary, free flights, accommodation and food. Perth’s District Court last Thursday was told two of the men — 51-year-old Karwai Lau and 44-year-old Tony Kittu, both from Malaysia — were unaware it would involve illegal activity, with Kittu initially believing he would be tending to plants used in Chinese herbal medicine. But additional claims — that they remained oblivious to the six large cannabis grow tents, where almost $6 million worth of drugs were discovered — were dismissed by Judge Charlotte Wallace. “Initially, you weren’t aware that it was going to involve illegal activity, but over time, you did gain that knowledge and continued to participate,” she said during their sentencing. Each of the five men played a role in the massive drug operation — from watering, maintaining and trimming the illegal plants, to handing down orders from those higher up in the chain. Twenty-nine-year-old Kaki Ko, from Hong Kong, as well as Kittu and Lau worked as “crop sitters” within the sophisticated set-up, while Hung Cheng-Pin and Kam Soo held more elevated positions. Cheng-Pin, 31, and Soo, 48, were entrusted to catalogue proceedings on the cannabis plantation and relay it back to those running the operation. Both were heavily involved from an early stage and Taiwanese Cheng-Pin was even tasked with covering the cost of a hefty gas invoice for the property, and pay its rent on multiple occasions. He also received cash from those masterminding the operation. Despite this involvement, when Wheatbelt detectives and officers from the drug and firearm squad raided the remote property in January 2023, the men claimed they believed they had been tending to herbal plants. One claimed in his interview with police he only tended to “veggies” and “fed chooks”. The scale and sophistication of the set-up however was captured in body-worn camera footage, which shows rows of mature plants in warehouse-sized greenhouses equipped with generators, fluorescent lights, water containers, reticulation, pots and fertiliser. In total police found more than 2000 plants and 127kg of dried cannabis. The value of the haul was predicted to be about $5.7 million — making it one of the largest-ever cannabis hauls by WA Police. On Thursday last week Judge Wallace said that while none of the five men were likely to have received a percentage of the profits, they had each played a “significant and integral role” in the enterprise. But she did accept that Kittu, Ko and Lau’s involvement was less than Soo and Cheng-Pin’s, and that they genuinely didn’t know the true scale of the operation. “Other than tending to the plants, you didn’t take on any more significant role than that,” she said. “Although each of you clearly knew at some stage, shortly after arriving no doubt, that you were engaging in illegal activity and each of you understood that those higher up in the chain would be selling that cannabis for profit.” She sentenced the three “crop sitters” to shorter terms of imprisonment, jailing Kittu and Ko for five years and four months and Lau to five years and two months. Cheng-Pin and Soo’s were given more severe penalties. Soo, from Malaysia, was jailed for six years and two months, and Cheng-Pin was sentenced to seven years and 10 months. All five were declared drug traffickers.