A man has been arrested by gardaí in connection with the discovery of a cannabis factory in Bruff, Co Limerick.
The man, aged in his 50s, was detained by local gardaí on suspicion of cultivating and harvesting cannabis plants, contrary to Section 17 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Garda sources said they believed the haul has an estimated street value of “between €80,000-€100,000”.
The man was arrested at a location in the Bruff area this afternoon and is being held at Bruff Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows gardaí to detain the man without charge for up to 24 hours.
Earlier, residents in the town described their shock after the drugs grow house was discovered on fire in a shed on the outskirts of the town in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Two local gardaí discovered the cannabis-making plant when responding to the fire.
Sources close to the investigation said a large amount of cannabis was discovered “submerged in water” inside the property after firefighters had extinguished the blaze.
“It will have to be dried and weighed before we know exactly how much it is worth. However, we are looking at between €80,000-€100,000 subject to analysis,” a garda source said.
Gardaí discovered some of the cannabis already “harvested” and in “glass jars”, as well as in “plant form”.
The fire completed destroyed the shed, causing the roof to cave in which led to gardaí using a digger machine to sift through the rubble to carry out further searches.
The property is situated on the town’s main approach road from Limerick city.
The blaze continued to smoulder today as gardaí conducted further searches of the property, as well as in a number of surrounding sheds and farmlands.
“It’s a significant seizure of cannabis in the Bruff area, and searches are ongoing,” confirmed Bruff Superintendent Brian Sugrue, who is leading the investigation in conjunction with the Divisional Drugs Unit.
Gardaí, at this early stage of the probe, do not believe the grow house is linked to serious organised crime gangs in Limerick city, however, it is thought it may be a standalone enterprise.
Local Fine Gael Councillor Bill O’Donnell said the small rural community was “in shock”.
“I’m very disappointed this activity is taking place in our community. Drugs are a serious problem in the greater Limerick area and it’s perplexing that this activity was literally taking place on the open road,” Cllr O’Donnell added.
“I have no doubt that it will be fully investigated, and I would have full faith that the gardaí will bring those responsible to justice,” he added.