€730,000 worth of cannabis plants seized
A QUIET suburban house was the front for a sophisticated cannabis growing operation which was capable of producing €300,000 worth of drugs every three months.
Around a dozen gardai carried out a raid on the rented house, in the Garrai Sheain estate in the Roscam suburb of Galway city, on Saturday evening. They discovered around 400 cannabis plants.
Four Chinese men in the house at the time, three in their 20s and one in his 30s, were arrested.
The house has been sealed off and gardai have taken fingerprints and photographs as part of their investigation.
Gardai also carried out a raid on another house suspected of being used to grow cannabis on the Monivea Road in Galway city. It is not known if there is a connection with the operation in the rented house in the Garrai Sheain estate.
In total, cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €730,000 were seized.
The electricity supply to the first house in the Garrai Sheain estate had been tampered with, allowing the meter to be bypassed. This meant that the huge electricity usage required to power the grow lights went undetected by the ESB.
The ESB has now disconnected the electricity supply to the house for safety reasons.
Garda sources said that the first crop of cannabis plants worth an estimated €300,000 had been grown in the house -- and that a second crop was almost ready when the raid took place.
The owners of the house simply believed it was being used for accommodation.
The four-bed detached house had been rented by a 28-year-old Chinese man last February. Neighbours in the quiet estate, which has around 20 houses, were completely unaware of the cannabis growing operation in the house. There was no television and no telephone in the house. The curtains on the upstairs and downstairs windows were always closed.
"You could go around the house a thousand times and you would see nothing," one local said.
The rented house had been transformed into a cannabis growing facility, with high-wattage lights installed to maximise growth.
The house had also been insulated with tinfoil to keep in the heat generated by the lights and football-sized holes had been punched in the ceilings to act as vents to the attic. Tinfoil had also been used to seal drafts in the house and increase the heat for growing.