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Wong Skips Out; Dozens of Cases Before Courts

By Hempology | December 11, 2006

THE alleged mastermind behind Manitoba’s largest marijuana grow operation has avoided prosecution by somehow slipping out of Canada while the subject of an undercover police investigation, the Free Press has learned.

Khyong Wong — who also goes by the name of Simon Wong — is being sought on a Canada-wide warrant.  His most recent address was in Burnaby, B.C., but justice sources say he has likely returned to his native Hong Kong.

Wong, 43, has lived in various provinces including B.C., Manitoba and Ontario, but would probably not face extradition even if caught because he is a Chinese national and therefore exempt.

Wong was last spotted in Manitoba in late October 2005 as police watched him board a WestJet flight to Vancouver, according to court documents obtained by the Free Press.

B.C.  Mounties initially continued surveillance upon his arrival.  Manitoba RCMP Staff Sgt.  Steve Saunders said a warrant for Wong’s arrest was issued Oct.  27, 2005 and has not been executed.

He didn’t know how Wong managed to flee the country.  Wong has been linked to two major grow operations in Sundown and Inwood, which police shut down in the fall of 2005.  Police have also established a connection to a sizable grow operation south of Whitewood, Sask.

Wong has also been linked to an empty warehouse on Park Lane Avenue in Winnipeg that police believe was being used to stash the drugs before shipment down south.

RCMP found the accused in Sundown — 25 men and three women — sleeping side-by-side, head-to-toe in every room of a tiny, 700-square-foot house during an early-morning raid last October.

While they were packed like sardines, more than 10,000 mature pot plants were thriving in four sprawling greenhouses sitting on the same rural farm property, which was hidden from the public by a thick curtain of trees.

RCMP say the Sundown operation alone could have yielded the owners nearly $19 million in street-level sales.

The migrant workers, most of whom don’t speak English and have no criminal records, were recruited from Toronto to help with the “fall harvest” by doing menial tasks such as watering plants and picking leaves, court was told.

One woman, a 48-year-old single mother on welfare, claims she was approached by a man in the Chinese community and told she could make upwards of $300 per day if she came to Manitoba — her airfare would be provided — to work for a couple of weeks.

“She was, essentially, a leaf picker.  Her job was to remove the leaves off the plants, and she didn’t even realize what type of plants these were.  She has never been involved in crime or the drug world and didn’t even know this was illegal,” said defence lawyer Mike Cook.  He said many of the accused were in the same situation as his client — struggling financially, recent immigrants or citizens of the country who were living in Toronto and looking for a “big break.”

The language barrier and large number of accused meant many people sat in custody for weeks before obtaining lawyers and being released on bail.

One of the 28 has since pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time in custody of nine months, which was given double-time credit.  All other accused remain before the courts, including five other suspects arrested in connection with the Manitoba operations.

Yet Wong has managed to dodge the legal bullet.

He has a minor criminal record out of Montreal for crimes involving possession of an instrument to commit forgery and disposing of a stolen credit card. 

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