Drug growers' prayers go unheard as bumper crop raided by gardai
SUSPECTED cannabis cultivators prayed for a good crop at a makeshift altar inside a growhouse.
Officers found the altar to Buddha when they raided the building in the townland of Kyletalesha, Portlaoise, Co Laois.
The growers apparently believed that timing the cultivation process for around midnight would help improve the quality of the crop.
Detectives think that the gang was being instructed in the art of growing and harvesting the crop when they burst into the growhouse in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Four people were arrested including a 42-year-old Vietnamese woman suspected of being the instructor. All four suspects were being held yesterday at Tullamore station, Co Offaly.
Some 1,500 plants, with a street value of €600,000, were seized in the raid.
A second growhouse, which was being prepared for use by the same gang, was also uncovered by gardai in Kildangan, outside Kildare town.
They found a sophisticated set-up with five chambers organised for a rotation system of cultivating the cannabis.
As well as the alleged instructor, a 39-year-old Vietnamese man and two other men, who are originally from south county Dublin but now live in Co Laois and Co Kildare, were arrested.
In a third raid, gardai from the Louth divisional drugs unit found a growhouse at Drumgooles Cross, near the village of Collon.
A 43-year-old Chinese man was arrested and taken for questioning to Drogheda station where he was being held yesterday. Gardai seized 400 plants, with a street value of €160,000 in the raid.
Gardai believe the second, partially constructed, growhouse, discovered at Kildangan, was being set up to grow a crop of 4,000 plants every eight weeks, which would have produced massive profits for the organisers.
The walls were lined in preparation for the cultivation process but it did not have heating and irrigation systems in place.
In the three swoops 1,900 plants, worth an estimated €760,000, were seized. So far this year gardai have seized around 350 growhouses, while 700 were uncovered in 2010.