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Cannabis-cultivation crackdown reaps rewards


Cannabis-cultivation crackdown reaps rewards

€42k of drug discovered in Ballina grow-house

Ciara Galvin

FOLLOWING the latest drugs seizure in Ballina over the weekend, Mayo’s drug squad chief has confirmed he is confident of continued success in the crackdown on cannabis grow-houses in the county.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Detective Jim Cadden said his unit had recovered what is thought to be cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €42,000 in a house in the north Mayo capital on Sunday afternoon.
Gardaí searched the house as part of an ongoing intelligence-led operation targeting the illegal sale and supply of controlled drugs in the county.
A male in his 40s was arrested at the scene and detained under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 at Ballina Garda Station.
He was released without charge late on Sunday night, and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Detective Cadden told The Mayo News he and his team at the Divisional Drugs Unit in Castlebar are confident that they are making progress in tackling the drugs trade in Mayo.
“We’re definitely making it more difficult for them. Now some are even trying to hide drugs in forests around the county to try and avoid being caught. Sometimes drugs such as cocaine and speed are only in a house for a short time,” explained the Detective.
Since its establishment in February 2007, the Drugs Unit has recorded 98 successful operations on cannabis grow-houses around the county. The figure for the eight-year period before this stood at approximately ten.
Speaking about the ramping up of surveillance operations in Mayo, Det Cadden said ‘It’s going well’, adding that they were looking at ‘every age group’.
“We’re looking at people from 15 years up. Our youngest person arrested last year for cannabis was 15, and the oldest was 79,” he said.

Resources an issue
While confident in the team’s progress so far this year, having already recorded two successful drugs seizures, Detective Cadden said the lack of resources was an issue within the county, and that the county’s task force is flat out.
“There’s five of us, and once we make a seizure then we have to prepare a file for the DPP, and that takes us out of action,” he explained.
On average, the unit records 12 cultivation seizures per year, and Detective Cadden believes he and his colleagues are on target this year with two already recorded.
“I have no doubt that this year, with the intelligence we have and public assistance that we’re going to have, more people will be apprehended … We’re getting great assistance from the public,” he noted, adding that suspicious activity is being regularly reported.
The largest seizure of drugs in Mayo to date was €1.2 million worth of cannabis plants at a warehouse in Swinford in 2012, for which two people are currently serving prison sentences.
Last week, two people received suspended prison sentences at Castlebar Circuit Court for cultivating large amounts of cannabis in their homes. “Once you’re taking bigger dealers out, you’re making it difficult for others to set up,” commented Detective Cadden.