GARDAI have now arrested 113 suspects following an intelligence-led operation aimed at disrupting gangs involved in organised crime and, in particular, cannabis growhouses.
Operation Wireless involved local gardai, backed up by national units, and involved 236 searches across 15 counties.
It was revealed yesterday that gardai have seized more than 400 growhouses so far this year – five of them in this latest operation.
The growhouses are mushrooming in every county because of the huge profits involved because of reduced costs through the elimination of middlemen and the potent herbal cannabis being produced fetching higher prices on the streets.
Despite the increased cannabis production, gardai said there had been no major reductions in the heroin and cocaine trades, with the sale of heroin on the increase in some small pockets around the country.
The suspects are being held at stations including Kells, Bray, Athlone, Mullingar, Galway, Claremorris, Castlerea, Tralee, Henry Street and Roxboro Road in Limerick city, Fermoy, Togher and Mayfield in Cork, Waterford, Enniscorthy, Carlow and throughout the Dublin region.
They were arrested for a range of offences including drug trafficking, robbery, aggravated burglary, possession of firearms, theft and handling stolen property.
Gardai said yesterday the value of the drugs seized in the crackdown could exceed €5m.
The value was being totted up as gardai put on display some of the cannabis plants seized in the growhouses in Rathcormac, Co Cork; Stamullen, Co Meath; Clonroche, Co Cork; and Henrietta Lane and Glasnevin in Dublin.
It emerged that a cannabis growhouse had been developed in an isolated north-Cork warehouse once used for storing Asian vegetables.
Gardai seized more than 800 cannabis plants worth €650,000, which had been set in the Rathcormac warehouse in what one source described as an industrial-scale operation.
Gardai believe the cannabis was being prepared for the Christmas market in Cork, Limerick and Waterford.