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Over 1,700 cannabis plants sezied in Co Meath, Ireland

FruityBud

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Gardai have found the first evidence that Irish crime gangs have moved into the cannabis cultivation trade here after five Irishmen were arrested yesterday in the biggest cannabis growing facility ever found in the State.

Most cannabis growhouse suspects arrested here to date have been Asian and detectives believe that Vietnamese and Chinese criminals dominate the illegal sector here.

However, when a large team of gardaí raided a farm and warehouse in Co Meath yesterday they found a crop of 1,720 plants in various stages of maturity and arrested five Irish suspects.

The find was made in Bective, Co Meath, just before 2pm. The seized crop is valued at €680,000 and is believed to be the largest number of plants ever found here in one location.

The warehouse had been converted into a sophisticated growing operation with high wattage lamps and reflective sheeting having been installed throughout to create the bright, warm conditions needed to grow cannabis plants.

An irrigation system had also been put in place to feed the plants with large quantities of water, all mixed with chemicals to aid the plants’ growth and increase their THC, or cannabis potency content.

The five men arrested are aged 40, 43, 37, 32 and 60 years.

They have all been detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act.

Three of the men gave addresses in Co Meath and the other two are from north Dublin.

They were taken to Kells and Navan Garda stations where they were still being questioned last night.

Yesterday’s raid and arrests operation followed an intelligence-led Garda operation involving periods of surveillance on a number of suspects and on the premises raided.

The operation was led by members of the Garda National Drugs Unit with members of the Meath detective and drugs units.

It was the latest raid under the national drug unit’s Operation Nitrogen, which was established to investigate gangs behind the increasing number of cannabis cultivation operations found in the Republic.

While a small number of Irish people have been arrested in relation to the discovery of some cannabis growing operations, the cannabis crops linked to Irish suspects have tended to be very small.

Overall, the vast majority of those arrested under Operation Nitrogen have been Asian, with most from Vietnam.

The Asian gangs began using the Republic as a cannabis growing base more often just over two years ago after they were detected growing crops in Britain and Northern Ireland.

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