01/06/2006 - 11:21:58
A Hong Kong national and pizza delivery man who was caught with the chemical ingredients for making €7.9m worth of amphetamines and 'ecstasy' has been jailed for two years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Sing Fai Yau (aged 50) of Walkinstown Park, Dublin 12, pleaded guilty to possession of chemical substances known as ‘BMK’, at his home, and ‘PMK’ at Greenhills Industrial Estate, on May 12, 2004.
The total value of the substances came to €57,350 but the chemicals had the potential to help produce illegal drugs which could have realised up to €3.75m worth of ecstasy and €4.23m worth of amphetamines when sold to addicts.
Judge Michael White said that it was a serious offence in a serious business, which involved very "ruthless people". But he added that he was satisfied Yau was "acting under elements of undue duress" and that he was in fear for the lives of his extended family in Hong Kong.
Detective Sergeant Thomas Waters of the Garda National Drugs Unit told Mr Paul Greene BL, prosecuting, that a shipment from China was intercepted in Holland by Dutch custom officials who then agreed with the gardai to permit a controlled delivery to the Irish destination.
The cargo contained 45 steel 200-litre barrels which were sealed and marked "vegetable oil". The Dutch authorities had found the ‘PMK’ and replaced all of the barrels except one with water.
A surveillance operation followed the shipment from its collection in Dublin Port on May 11, 2004 to the Greenhills Industrial Estate, where Yau was spotted unloading the barrels and moving them into a warehouse.
Gardaí found 30 litres of ‘PMK’, the main chemical ingredient of ‘ecstasy’, worth an estimated €28,500, in one of the 45 barrels in the warehouse.
A search of Yau’s home, which he shared with his stepbrother and his family, revealed in a garden shed 47 litres of ‘BMK’, the main chemical ingredient of amphetamines, worth an estimated €25,850.
Det Sgt Waters told Mr Greene that possession of a significant quantity of these chemicals was only criminalised in March 2004, two months previous to Yau being caught with them.
Yau was arrested at the warehouse, which he was subletting, and later made "significant admissions." He told gardaí that he initially thought the chemicals were expensive massage oils but during the importation became aware they were actually controlled drugs.
Det Sgt Waters said Yau travelled to China and Holland to oversee the operation and negatives were found in his home which showed him filling the barrels.
Det Sgt Waters said the shipment deliberately came to Ireland via Holland where it was supposed to be placed into smaller containers, marked vegetable oil, and shipped to Dover in England, where it would be shipped back to Holland. This was a "less suspicious route" and less likely to be intercepted than transporting directly from China to Holland
Det Sgt Waters said Yau had moved to Ireland almost 23 years ago and had first lived in Douglas in Cork. He started in the fast-food trade and was also involved in the buying and selling of race horses. He was an Irish citizen and his three now adult children were born here.
Gardaí were satisfied that Yau had not profited significantly from his part in the operation.
Det Sgt Waters agreed with Mr Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that when Yau first became involved he was ignorant to what was going on and when he discovered controlled drugs were involved he was put under significant pressure to complete his task.
Det Sgt Waters accepted that Yau’s involvement was at the bottom rung of the ladder but said that he did play an important role and was basically the facilitator.
He agreed that Yau had no previous convictions and was unlikely to get involved in criminal activity again.
Mr Grehan told Judge White that Yau’s involvement had come about because of his "gullibility and willingness to help others".
He said he had been involved in many fund-raising activities both in Ireland and Hong Kong and that he was regarded as someone with "exceptional moral character and has contributed much to many people over many years".