‘Exploited’ gardeners jailed for minor role in cannabis racket

Two gardeners’ sole job was to harvest cannabis plants at an isolated Co Clare bungalow, a court heard.

Rafal Ucinek, 26, from Poland, was jailed for four years and Emil Sumcvyski, 24, also from Poland, was jailed for two years at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday.

Both men, of Milltown, Tulla, had pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court last Monday to having drugs for sale or supply at their rented house where gardaí discovered a major gardening centre with cannabis plants being cultivated. During a Garda raid on January 13, young cannabis plants with a potential value of €99,200 when fully grown were found.

A further batch of herbal cannabis worth €227,000 was also found, along with €3,715 in cash. Passing sentence, Judge Carroll Moran said: “The two defendants were the lowest rung of this operation and were just the gardeners and their sole job was to harvest the plants.”

Garda Dominic Regan told the court that the growing operation was carried out in two large upstairs attic rooms in the dormer bungalow where special insulation, lighting and ventilation had been installed. It was a very sophisticated operation.

Garda Regan said the money found was payment for earlier crops and Ucinek said they were working for a man they called ‘Uncle’.

They were paid between €2,000 and €4,000 per crop.

Efforts to track down ‘Uncle’ had failed. It was accepted by the prosecution that the two defendants had been exploited and their reward was small.

They were also warned by those in charge of the operation that if there was any failure in the crop, money would be deducted from their payments.

The house was cold and damp, the men were living in very poor conditions, and neither had any social life. Judge Moran said that while the two defendants were being exploited, they were still in this illegal business for their own profit.

The sentences were backdated to January when the two were arrested and placed in custody.


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