Police haveraided three suspected grow houses in Ballarat and uncovered what theybelieveto be major commercial cannabis operations in just one week.
The major drug stingscome as policemake new strategic efforts to monitor and shut down a growing industry including raids on a total of 16 houses in just eight months.
A recent crop of seized drugs
It is believed young, cash strapped Melbourne students are being recruited to drive Ballarat’s$8 millioncommercial cannabis supply marketby out of town criminals who usethe proceeds to fund both international and domestic crime.
Localpolice have busted the grow houses and found more than 2570 cannabis plants in the last eight months.The grow houses –spread between Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Learmonth, Bannockburn and Rokewood –are set up in both rented and owned properties and tended to by young, often international, students who are paid cash-in-hand to procure the crops.
The Courier’sanalysis of court documents show anoverwhelming number of Vietnam nationals have been prosecuted over a series of grow houses discovered in the Ballarat region over the past six months.
Police say the cheaper rents in Ballarat and surrounding suburbs were tempting to growers whose primary purpose of establishing the grow houses was to generate quick profit to fund both international and local crime.
Police have urged anyone who has noticed unusual or uncharacteristic behaviour from their neighbours to contact police.
This includes neighboursdoing randomand unusual renovations, people tampering with electrics,arrivingat odd hours and having lights come on in sync.
Report any suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Read The Courier’s full insideanalysis of the booming regional cannabis industry in Cannabis: The $8m Ballarat industryand what the police and courts are doing to crack down on theillegal trade;Cannabis: “Even those at the lower endof growing it must expect punishment”-Judge
Last week’s Friday Wendouree bust; Police raid on drug grow house in Wendouree: PHOTOS, VIDEO
Last week’s Tuesday Redan bust:Police seize 150cannabis plantsin raid on Redan grow house
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