The Irish Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Garda* seize cannabis worth over €800,000

GARDAÍ HAVE seized almost 1,000 cannabis plants with an estimated street value in excess of €800,000.

The seizures were made in Stillorgan, Co Dublin and Kells, Co Meath, where garda* said that quite elaborate “factories” had been established to cultivate the plants indoors with artificial lighting and sophisticated ventilation systems.

Four people were arrested in the Garda operation and were yesterday being held in Blackrock and Kells stations.

The arrests began when officers stopped and searched a car on the Drummartin link road in south Co Dublin at lunchtime on Monday. Following the discovery of 5kg of cannabis herb, a 33-year-old man was arrested.

Garda* then moved to a private house at Mount Anville Park, Stillorgan, where a search revealed “the entire upstairs of the house was being used as a cannabis factory”, according to a spokesman.

“In each of the four bedrooms there was a pot-growing system with high-density lighting systems, reflective wall coverings and extensive ventilation and air extraction systems,” the Garda Press Office said. A 33-year-old woman was arrested at the scene.

The value of cannabis seized in the Stillorgan operation amounted to about €600,000, according to the Garda.

A neighbour in Mount Anville Wood, Terry Lillis, said the house was owned by a man who had moved to Co Laois about 10 years ago and was being rented.

He said he believed the current tenants were members of the Asian community.

The cul-de-sac of about 28 detached, red-brick houses is noted for its quiet atmosphere. Another neighbour explained most of the residents were “empty nesters” whose adult children had left.

At the corner opposite the house under investigation two women chatted about the discovery and confirmed the relevant house, but refused to go into detail about the occupants.

“I don’t know my neighbours. You would speak when you see them, but you wouldn’t really know them.”

In what officers said was “a related operation”, another apparent cannabis factory was found in a house on the Headfort Road, Kells, in the morning. The Garda said the house had an electricity supply “bypass” and air extraction system.

Elsewhere, in separate operations, garda* in Dublin also seized cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €82,000 and a quantity of cash after two vehicles were stopped and a house searched.

Officers stopped and searched a car and van on the Ninth Lock Road at about 7pm last night. During the search they found 7kg of cannabis herb.