Two men were jailed for life after a man was murdered and dumped in a canal after a drugs feud, it can be reported today.

The body of Chen Cai Guan, 38, from Fujian, China, was found at Burn Bridge near Selby, North Yorkshire, on March 20, 2009.

He had been living illegally in the UK under a false identity since 2001, a North Yorkshire Police spokesman said.

Mr Chen died from severe head injuries and police believe his body may have been in the canal for a number of weeks before it was found.

Police inquiries linked the dead man to a cannabis factory in a warehouse at Elvington, near York, where 1,500 cannabis plants were discovered in February 2009.

After a five-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, Zhang Zhouli, 49, from Dong Bei in China, and Huang Bao Lung, 44, from Fujian in China, were found guilty of murder and jailed for life. Huang is to serve a minimum of 18 years and Zhang a minimum of 16 years, the police spokesman said.

Wang Shaozhe, 23, also from Dong Bei, who was found not guilty of murder but guilty of perverting the course of justice and pleaded guilty to cannabis production, received six years and nine months.

A fourth man, Chen Xia Hua, 27, from Fujian, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and pleaded guilty to cannabis production, receiving a sentence of four years and nine months.

The murder trial concluded in July but can only be reported today after the conclusion of the linked trial of two others.

Mr Chen's body was found by an off-duty police officer who was fishing at the canal on the afternoon of March 20.

Police said the body was wrapped in bin bags and had several bin liners over the head that were tied in place with cord. The feet were wrapped in bin bags and cord around the centre of the body suggested that an object had been tied to it to weigh it down in the water.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Chen died from serious head, face and neck injuries caused by kicks, blows and the possible use of a weapon.

He arrived in the UK from the Fuqing City area in Fujian province on the south China coast. He worked as a fish farmer but his business began to struggle in 2001 and he began to amass debts.

To try to sort out his finances he paid approximately £13,000 to £15,000 to an organised criminal gang to buy transit to the UK, leaving behind his wife and three children.

Once in the UK he joined a criminal organisation cultivating cannabis at various locations throughout the UK, including the Elvington warehouse where detectives believe the murder took place.

The motive is thought to have been money. Detective Superintendent Karnail Dulku, of North Yorkshire Police, said he believed Mr Chen disagreed with a plan to double cross people investing in the cannabis farm and was attacked by other members of the gang.

During the investigation traces of Mr Chen's blood were found on the walls and ceiling of the Elvington warehouse.

Also being tried was Zhang Zhouli, who pleaded guilty to cannabis production and was found not guilty of money laundering, and Huang Bao Lung, who was found guilty today of cannabis production but not guilty of money laundering. Both will be sentenced at a later date.

Speaking after the conclusion of the trials Mr Dulku said the large-scale investigation, which took detectives from several towns and cities across the UK to rural southern China, proved ''challenging and complex''.

He said: ''Regardless of Mr Chen Cia Guan's involvement in illegal activity, we were determined to find those responsible for his death and seek justice.

''In addition we wanted to prevent an escalation of this type of criminal vendetta homicide which, left unchallenged, may have spread into our communities.

''During the course of the investigation into Mr Chen's murder, we have disrupted a large criminal gang, held them accountable for taking a life and dismantled their ability to produce cannabis, which in turn fuels other criminal activity such as money laundering, human trafficking and prostitution, a scourge of our communities.

''Today's outcome sends a clear message to organised crime groups seeking to operate in North Yorkshire. No one is untouchable and we will continue the fight against serious and organised crime and the negative effect it has on our communities.''