Europe's largest mar­i­juana op­er­a­tion thwarted

Or­gan­i­sa­tion based in sev­eral Costa towns and run by ex­pats was aim­ing to grow 10 tonnes of mar­i­juana buds per year to be­come Europe's largest sup­plier

Costa Levante News - - NEWS -

By James Parkes GUARDIA Civil have dis­man­tled a crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion that planned to be­come Europe's main cannabis grower and mar­i­juana sup­plier.

Of­fi­cers based in San Juan have ar­rested five men and a woman who have been charged with il­le­gal cannabis grow­ing (not for per­sonal use), drug deal­ing, il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of weapons and il­le­gal elec­tric­ity link-ups.

The de­tainees are four Dutch­men aged 39 to 43, a 46year-old Mo­roc­can man and a Dutch woman age 40.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­gan in Au­gust when wit­nesses had re­ported sus­pi­cious-look­ing in­di­vid­u­als tak­ing rub­bish bags with what ap­peared to be cannabis plants from a villa and plac­ing them in cars parked in the street.

Guardia Civil en­tered the prop­erty, that was empty and open, find­ing re­mains of what could have been a plan­ta­tion of around 1,000 cannabis plants. They also found a weapon, which led them to be­lieve the house had been aban­doned in a rush due to sus­pi­cions aroused.

A sub­se­quent surveil­lance in­ves­ti­ga­tion led of­fi­cers to a Dutch­man, be­lieved to be the gang leader, and sev­eral houses through­out Ali­cante prov­ince, that were be­ing used as 'green houses' for grow­ing cannabis.

Of­fi­cers later dis­cov­ered the aban­doned villa was owned by an­other Dutch­man, of Mo­roc­can ori­gin, who ap­peared to have been sell­ing mar­i­juana be­hind the gang’s back. Ac­cord­ing to a force spokesman, this ex­plains why it was aban­doned sud­denly, pos­si­bly due to a set­tling of ac­counts among the gang mem­bers.

The man was se­ri­ously beaten and he left the coun­try.

Af­ter sev­eral weeks of against-the-clock in­ves­ti­ga­tion to catch the gang mem­bers, of­fi­cers dis­cov­ered a ware­house in La Nucía in­dus­trial es­tate that had all the nec­es­sary equip­ment to be a 'green house'.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the gang had around 20 prop­er­ties and ware­houses through­out the prov­ince for the same rea­son and could have eas­ily be­ing grow­ing 80,000 plants per year that would have pro­vided them with 10 tonnes of mar­i­juana buds to be sold on the drugs mar­ket.

Dur­ing five house searches in Muchamiel, Ro­belledo and Cam­pello, an­other 8,000 plants were found, but of­fi­cers dis­cov­ered these three lo­ca­tions were used to cul­ti­vate the seeds and once the plants reached 5cm, they were dis­trib­uted to 'green house' prop­er­ties in other ar­eas.

The mar­i­juana was be­ing sent to Hol­land, Ger­many and Bel­gium, which would have made the Ali­cante prov­ince gang one of the con­ti­nent’s main pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers.

The houses and ware­houses used by the gang were all equipped with CCTV and a WiFi con­nec­tion to keep them un­der surveil­lance at all time by the gang.

In ad­di­tion to the il­le­gal pro­duc­tion of mar­i­juana, the gang are also ac­cused of elec­tric­ity theft. Many of the lo­ca­tions were il­le­gally linked-up to the pub­lic sup­ply sys­tem.

These link-ups were prac­ti­cally un­de­tectable as the gang made a trench from the house along the pave­ment and di­rectly to the mains wire, not a lamp­post. This was done care­fully and the pave­ment slabs re­placed al­most per­fectly so no-one de­tected the work.

Elec­tric­ity com­pany work­ers even traced the ar­eas due to the high con­sump­tion lev­els with­out be­ing able to lo­cate the linkup. One of the plan­ta­tions alone is be­lieved to have used €45,000 worth of elec­tric­ity.

The five men were ar­rested and taken be­fore a judge who jailed them on re­mand.

The woman has been re­leased on charges and has been banned from leav­ing the coun­try.

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