GARDAÍ uncovered a €20,000 cannabis growhouse in Laois just days before Christmas as part of Operation Nitrogen.
In an intelligence led operation targeting the cultivation of cannabis, Gardaí from the GNDU (Garda National Drugs Unit), assisted by local Garda Units, searched several premises throughout the country making twelve arrests and seizing cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €5.6 million.
At approximately 9pm on Wednesday, December 19 last, a raid was carried out on a private residence at Ballyrider, Stradbally and this resulted in the recovery of cultivation equipment and the seizure of €20,000 worth of cannabis plants.
Two men were arrested following the search and they were detained for questioning at Portlaoise Garda Station.
They were subsequently charged in connection with the seizure during a special sitting of Portlaoise District Court on Friday morning, December 21.
The crackdown saw searches take place in Athlone, Longford, Drogheda & Wexford, Lucan and Kiltimagh on the same evening as the Stradbally raid.
While two days later plants with an estimated street value of €1m were discovered following the search of an industrial unit Nangor Road, Dublin and two men appeared in court on Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24).
Meanwhile, the number of controlled drug detections in Portlaoise has increased by 28% in the past year.
Sergeant Tom Walton told a meeting of Portlaoise Joint Policing Committee that the past three months have witnessed a 13% increase in the number of detections.
“There were sixteen detections for the sale and supply of drugs in the town. These offences cover the whole range of drugs from heroin to cannabis and are being processed at present. In the same period there twenty detections of drugs for personal use which is a decrease of 67% on figures for the previous quarter.”
He said some of the statistics can be attributed to the shortage of heroin that is being experienced throughout the country at the moment.