Gardaí have busted three cannabis factories, worth over €600,000, in the South-East in three days.
The three raids follow the discovery of the largest-ever growhouse operation in the country the previous week, when an estimated €3m worth of cannabis plants were found in Piltown, Co Kilkenny. Last Thursday, gardaí raided a house in Urlingford, Co Kilkenny, and discovered a grow house. Gardaí said the search was part of an ongoing investigation and one man was arrested at the scene. The plants had an estimated street value of €320,000.
The following day Carlow gardaí searched a house at Old Leighlin and found over 300 cannabis plants with a potential value of €242,000.
A Polish man in his 20s was arrested and detained at Carlow Garda Station.
Then on Saturday, gardaí raided a house in Tallow, Co Waterford, and seized plants, herb, and resin with an estimated street value of €80,000. Gardaí from Dungarvan and Fermoy were involved in the operation. A man in his 40s was arrested at the scene and detained at Dungarvan Garda Station.
Garda sources said there did not appear to be any connection between the three recent seizures, nor with the seizure in Piltown.
Gardaí recently increased the valuation for 1kg of herbal cannabis to €20,000 per kilogram, up from €12,000. Garda sources said the recently discovered grow houses were run by local Irish criminals, with links in some cases to Chinese gangs. These gangs supply vulnerable people from China and Vietnam who act as round-the-clock gardeners in growhouses.
Garda sources described the conditions these people live in as “close to slavery” with little food and the threat that if they do not do as they are told their families back home would be hurt.
Meanwhile, 22kg of herbal cannabis and 1kg of cocaine with a combined street value of €330,000 was seized yesterday after arriving into Dublin Port in a trailer from Holyhead.
An Irish man in his 50s was arrested.
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