FIVE Vietnamese nationals, including two illegal immigrants, stand accused of growing almost $3 million worth of marijuana in six ‘hydro houses’ across the NSW Hunter Valley.
Dozens of police raided six homes, two in Tenambit and one each in Raworth, Heddon Greta, Aberglasslyn and Chisholm, on Wednesday morning.
During the blitz, officers allegedly found 1405 cannabis plants growing inside the six homes.
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Police said the huge haul had an estimated street value of $2.8 million.
Four men and a young woman, all from Vietnam, were arrested and each charged with cultivating a large commercial quantity of a prohibited plant.
Two of the men, aged 26 and 37, were identified as being illegal immigrants.
The younger man was arrested in the raid at Tenambit, along with a 25-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, while the older man was arrested at the house in Heddon Greta.
The fifth person, a 48-year-old man, was nabbed in the operation at Raworth.
Police said the group had allegedly renovated all six homes for the sole purpose of growing cannabis.
“When investigators entered the houses, they discovered each had been refurbished with fake walls and extra rooms, solely dedicated to the cultivation of hydroponically-grown cannabis,” NSW Police said.
“Most of the dwellings contained more than 250 plants, ranging in size from small seedlings to fully mature.”
Detective Superintendent Craig Jackson said the crops would be ripped up and destroyed.
“Whoever is behind these indoor cannabis crops has gambled with not being detected in a regional area like Maitland and they’ve been proved seriously mistaken,” Det. Supt. Jackson said.
“We have ripped these cash crops out and are set to destroy them, not only depriving criminals of their immediate value, but disrupting their businesses well into the future.”
The five people arrested and charged over the discovery were remanded in custody and due to appear in Maitland Local Court today.
You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.