GARDAÍ have uncovered yet another cannabis growhouse in Laois, where the street value of the 200 plants seized could be as high as €160,000.
Last Tuesday, June 19, a division of the Abbeyleix gardaí backed up by the detective branch of Portlaoise carried out a search of a rural property near Ballacolla. The old farmhouse, located between Clough and Shanahoe, was being rented out and a portion of the house had been converted for the purpose of cultivating cannabis. Some 200 plants were discovered, with a State estimate of approximately €800 street value per plant.
Two Oriental men, one in his 20s and the other in his 30s, were arrested and are currently in custody. A file is being prepared for the director of public prosecutions.
It has been confirmed that an upstairs bedroom in the house had been completely blacked out from natural light and an elaborate lighting system and high powered electrical equipment were employed to grow the drug. A garda spokesperson has said that the operation was in the early stages and had not been fully established, with the plants only halfway toward maturity.
The spokesperson said that the gardaí have witnessed a massive increase in this kind of activity in rural areas over the last 18 months. Recent crime figures confirm that since 2007, there has been a staggering 700% increase in the cultivation of cannabis in the region, with 16 growhouses uncovered last year.
The spokesperson encouraged everyone living in rural areas to be extra vigilant of such activity, and if they have any suspicions of such growhouses they should contact the gardaí immediately.