GARDAÍ HAVE seized cannabis plants worth more than €300,000, bringing to €3 million the total value of cannabis plants seized since July.
One of the latest finds was made in Rathfarnham, south Dublin, yesterday, where 519 plants valued at €207,000 were found growing in a rented house.
There was also evidence of an earlier crop having been grown there.
Gardaí believe the gang behind the haul had been using the house since June and had already cultivated and sold on one full crop worth an estimated €250,000.
Members of the Garda National Drug Unit and local gardaí went to the house in the Grangewood estate just after 1pm after receiving a call from the owner of the property.
He had earlier tried to gain access to the house but when the tenant did not answer he had to let himself in and found the crop growing in four upstairs bedrooms.
The house had been fitted with heat lamps that mimic the light and heat from the sun needed to grow the plants. A watering system, with feed chemicals mixed in, had also been set up for the plants.
Gardaí also found four ventilation units in each of the bedrooms. These were being used to pass warm air from the property in an effort to control the strong smell from the plants in case it might alert neighbours.
Gardaí believe the grow house was being run by an Asian gang and that one of their workers had been living there and tending to the crop.
Detectives are working on the theory that the gang worker, or “gardener” as they are known, fled the house when he heard the landlord entering the property yesterday afternoon. Sources said the number of plants found at the house was “higher than usual”.
Drug squad members also raided a house in Ronanstown, west Dublin, yesterday evening, and found another crop of cannabis growing there.
They believe that operation, in a rented house in Liffey Walk, was also being run by a Chinese and Vietnamese gang. It is unclear if the finds in Ronanstown and Rathfarnham are linked.
“We’ve found some houses recently that we didn’t think were linked but as we looked into it more the same suspects emerged so we’re not ruling out a link at this stage,” said one source.
The crop found in Ronanstown numbered 254 plants and was worth an estimated €100,000. The plants were growing in the upstairs bedrooms. Sources said it was a less sophisticated operation than that found in Rathfarnham.
There was nobody in either house at the time of the Garda raids and no arrests had been made last night.
However, Garda investigations are continuing.
CONOR LALLY and PAMELA DUNCAN
The Irish Times - Thursday, October 21, 2010