GARDAI have busted an organised Asian crime gang and closed down a network of cannabis factories.
A young Chinese woman, suspected of being a key player behind the sophisticated drugs operation, was being quizzed by detectives today.
She was one of five people detained in south Dublin and Cavan yesterday as part of the on-going Operation Nitrogen.
Hundreds of plants thought to be worth more than €500,000 were seized during the raids.
The woman, aged 28, was arrested after she left a warehouse at the Jamestown Industrial Estate in Inchicore.
Another "growhouse" was located at the Park West Industrial Estate.
Garda sources indicated that the woman had called to the Jamestown Industrial Estate with food and other supplies for two Chinese men who were tending to the cannabis crop.
She left the supplies and then locked the gardeners inside before being intercepted by the members of the garda national drugs unit, backed up by rank-and-file personnel.
The two men were engaged to look after the crop, estimated by gardai to be worth in the region of €250,000.
Other discoveries near Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, and at Park West brought the value of the haul to over half a million euro and the number of people, all Chinese, in custody to five.
The woman and the two men aged 27 and 33, who were tending the crop at the Jamestown warehouse are being held at Crumlin Garda Station. They can be detained without charge for up to seven days.
A gardai spokesman confirmed: "The cannabis plants were at various stage of growth." This is understood to be done so that an ongoing supply is guaranteed.
Electricity meters are by-passed so that sky-high energy bills do not alert the supplier.
The Chinese gang and others have been targeted by the Operation Nitrogen, an initiative aimed at locating the specially adapted cannabis growhouses throughout the country.
Many of the warehouses have been found in isolated houses in rural areas and in rented suburban properties where the landlord seldom if ever calls.
The Chinese gangs have ben involved in practically all of the warehouses uncovered but some Irish gangs have also set up their own "factories".