THREE Chinese nationals, arrested in connection with the operation of what is believed to be the largest cannabis cultivation operation detected in the State, have been remanded to appear at Cloverhill District court today (Wednesday).
Last week, Tullamore Gardai, assisted by the reigonal support unit and the local drugs unit, raided a warehouse in Durrow, Tullamore, and discovered about 5,000 cannabis plants, valued at €1.5 million.
Following the ‘grow house’ discovery,Tangfu Han (25), Weiwen Wang (26) and Bin Wan (31), all of whom have no fixed residence in Ireland, were arrested in Durrow and detained at Tullamore Garda Station.
All three Asian men then appeared before Portlaoise District Court on Thursday, January 26 last, charged in connection with the investigation.
Before last week’s court sitting, Gardai objected to bail for the three Asian men as they are illegal immigrants with no fix address, who are facing serious charges.
When arrested, one defendant, Han replied that he “didn’t know they were cannabis”.
All three defendants were later remanded to Cloverhill District Court today (Wednesday).
Gardai have described last week’s raid as highly sophisticated with thousands of plants at various stages of growth and the “grow house” may have been in operation for a “number of months”.
It’s understood that specialist lighting and equipment had been used in the operation and the electricity meter had been bypassed and on entering the premises, gardaí found evidence to suggest that the people who were tending to the plants had been living in the cannabis factory.
Gardai have since moved the plants and associated paraphernalia equipment from the warehouse in Durrow to Dublin and Tullamore for analysis and storage.
Meanwhile, as part of an ongoing investigation, Gardai searched a house in Rochfortbridge, Co. Westmeath on January 26 last.
During the course of the search Garda discovered a quantity of cannabis with an estimated street value of €1,500.
A cultivation tent located at the rear of the house was also searched and cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €9,200 were also seized.
A man in his 40s was arrested at the scene and detailed under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, at Mullingar Garda Station. He was later released without charge pending a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.