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Five arrested in largest cannabis 'growhouse' raid

A NORTH Dublin gang was behind the country's largest ever cannabis growing operation.

Gardai raided a farm yesterday and uncovered plants with an estimated €680,000 street value. A total of 1,720 cannabis plants were discovered.

Five men were arrested.

Meanwhile, some €1.2m worth of cocaine was discovered in a container in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, in a separate operation a day earlier.

No arrests have been made in relation to that seizure, carried out when officers located a hold-all stashed in the rear of the container.

In the cannabis operation gardai moved in on the farm and warehouses located on a back road between Navan and Trim at Grange in Bective, Co Meath about 2pm. It is believed that a criminal gang from Finglas in Dublin was behind the elaborate cannabis production plant. Some of the gang are based in Finglas and others in Cabra, it is understood.

They were targeted under Operation Nitrogen, a garda operation set up to target the 'growhouse gangs' -- criminal outfits cultivating and selling cannabis. The plants, which take about 12 weeks to mature, were at various stages of cultivation. The 'growhouse' was equipped with light, heating and irrigation systems and was powered by a generator. A large number of plants were almost ready for sale and were drying out in a separate area.

The plants were stored in different areas, depending on their stage of growth. Four men were arrested inside one of the buildings and another was in a van.

The intelligence-led operation was part of the garda's Operation Nitrogen. One of the arrested men is 60 years old. The others are aged 40, 43, 37 and 32. They are being held under the Drug Trafficking Act.

Three men are being held in Kells Garda Station and the other two in Navan Garda Station. Members of the Garda National Drugs Unit, backed up by members of the Meath drug and detective units, were behind the operation.