Farmland in Xinwu district of Taoyuan,Taiwan, near where marijuana was allegedly grown. Photo: Google Maps

A 38-year-old Taiwanese man was arrested for growing marijuana plants in a rural coastal district of Taoyuan, and for hiring two Vietnamese illegal migrants to help him cultivate the drug.

The Taiwanese man had been named as a model farmer last year by the Taoyuan city government for growing organic vegetables in the city’s Xinwu district, The Liberty Times reported.

However, around six months ago, he allegedly started to revamp one of his greenhouses for growing marijuana, and hired two Vietnamese migrants – who no longer had valid work permits as they had run away from their former employers – to assist in the cultivation of the illegal plants.

After months of investigation regarding an online buyer of marijuana seeds, police identified the suspect and raided his farm on June 14, where 66 pots of living marijuana plants and two dead pots were seized.

The farmer told the police that it was difficult to sustain his business by selling vegetables even if they are organic, which are supposedly higher priced. He also explained that the illegal employment of the two Vietnamese workers was to cut costs.

Meanwhile, he denied growing the illegal plants for sale, insisting that the marijuana was for his own use to relieve stress.

The two illegal migrants were detained to assist in the investigation.