Man arrested for growing marijuana in downtown Seoul

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- A 45-year-old man has been arrested on charges of growing massive amounts of marijuana on the rooftop of a building in downtown Seoul and selling it, police said Thursday.

The suspect, only identified by his surname Lee, is under suspicion of cultivating marijuana plants for over four months from August 2013 at a massive growing facility on the rooftop of a six-story commercial building in central Seoul, said the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA).

The amount would be enough to provide a maximum of 3,000 people with the illegal substance, according to SMPA officers.

Lee, who was deported from the United States in 2008 after serving 10 years in prison for drug trafficking, learned how to grow hemp in California, the SMPA said.

"Lee installed a triple-layer door at the facility to avoid a crackdown," said an SMPA officer close to the investigation. "He was very meticulous by using English alias and contacting his clients through a cellphone bought under fake names."

The SMPA said it has also booked two other people for allegedly buying the narcotics from Lee and circulating them in the local market.

Under South Korean law, marijuana users can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail or fined up to 50 million won (US$44,500).

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