GARDAI have seized over €1.5m in cannabis after an operation targeting the main drugs distribution gang in Cork and Limerick.
Three men -- one from Limerick and two from Cork -- were arrested following the largest cannabis seizure made by drug squad officers outside Dublin this year.
The Irish Independent understands that the arrests and cannabis seizure followed a surveillance operation launched several weeks ago.
The operation came after gardai received detailed intelligence about a cannabis supply network in south Munster -- and storehouses for the drugs.
In a co-ordinated operation between drug squad officers in Cork and Limerick, a premises off the Boreenamanna Road in Cork was raided at lunchtime yesterday.
A saloon car was also stopped just outside of Cork city centre and a detailed search subsequently revealed a quantity of cannabis.
A search of the house yielded a greater quantity of cannabis -- with detectives estimating that the total haul has a street value around €1.5m.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that a quantity of cash was also recovered.
Drug squad officers in neighbouring Tipperary and Waterford also supported the operation.
One man was arrested following the search of the car and two others were arrested following the discovery of cannabis stored in the property.
All three were arrested under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act and can now be questioned for a period of up to seven days.
Two of the men were taken for questioning to the Bridewell garda station.
The third man was taken to Togher garda station.
One man is in his late 20s while the other two are in their 40s.
All three are Irish.
Gardai hailed the seizure as a major blow to cannabis distribution in the south Munster area.
"These drugs were for the Cork and Limerick market and it ranks as one of the most important seizures this year," one garda source said.
Samples of the cannabis will now be sent to the State Laboratory for testing to determine the origin of the drugs.
Gardai stressed that the demand for cannabis has risen given the decline in demand for cocaine due to economic factors.
Further raids are now expected following the successful Cork seizures.