The number of detections of cannabis growhouses is on the rise in Longford.
No fewer than 15 cannabis raids have been recorded in Longford over the past year as gardaí look to turn up the heat on crime gangs involved in the illegal supply and sale of drugs.
One of the chief targets for detectives is a prominent criminal from the Dublin area and who is widely known for his heavy handed approach.
He has been the subject of at least one planned operation with a string of others being aimed at crime gangs from eastern Europe.
The relatively high number of targeted operations levelled against well established criminal enterprises is something senior garda management have been keen to continue on in recent times.
Only eight weeks ago, 60 gardaí and members of the Armed Support Unit arrested nine people following an 18 month surveillance led operation that concentrated on “high value targets” involved in the supply and distribution of drugs in the Longford town area.
Eight of those nine individuals later appeared and were charged at a special District Court sitting on misuse of drugs charges.
The Garda operation, which was conducted by two undercover gardaí, included around 50 transactions with the estimated value of drugs seized at between €1,500 and €2,000.
Three more people appeared at a subsequent court sitting just before the summer recess and are due back before Judge Seamus Hughes on September 25 next.
That followed a further breakthrough back in January when two Lithuanian men were charged in connection with the discovery of ‘professionally’ modified €360,000 cannabis growhouse in Abbeylara.
In that operation, carried out by the Gardaí’s Armed Support Unit, backed up by officers from Roscommon/Longford Divisional Drug Unit and local gardaí, approximately 446 cannabis plants were discovered.
The plants, valued at around €800 each, were at the mid stages of maturity.
Cannabis cultivation requires a significant amount of electricity to ensure the drug can grow properly.
In that particular episode, it was revealed in court that the carefully adapted growhouse was so competently managed its energy usage was more than 14 times above the average amount consumed by conventional households.