Tue, 24 Nov 2020

SYDNEY, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- One of the largest cannabis busts ever made by Australian law enforcement has revealed an industrial-scale operation, leading to the arrests of 14 people, authorities revealed Monday.

Officers seized over 40 million Australian dollars (28.4 million U.S. dollars) worth of cannabis as the result of two raids on properties in northern New South Wales' (NSW) state on October 22 and 23.

In the first raid, 5,593 cannabis plants were seized along with 39 pounds of dried cannabis, with the following day a further 7,760 plants seized from a linked operation.

Police arrested 14 men as a result of the raids, all of whom were Vietnamese nationals, charging them with cultivating a large commercial quantity of a prohibited plant, supply of a prohibited drug and participating in group criminal activity.

Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Watson said the seizure was one of the most significant in Australian history.

"As far as cannabis seizures go, we have not seen one of this size since the 1970's," Watson said.

"The biggest difference is in 1975 outdoor crops were seasonal, so criminal groups were restricted to one crop a year, whereas these grow houses are weather controlled enabling the harvest of new plants every 12 weeks or so."

Those arrested in the raids were aged mostly in their 20s, with the eldest 44, and were on a mix of student and bridging visas.

All were refused bail and scheduled to appear in court on January 19, 2021, while the status of their visas was referred to the Department of Home Affairs.

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