GUARDIA CIVIL, working in cooperation with Europol, have uncovered and dismantled two large marihuana plantations and arrested four individuals in the Olivellas area of Barcelona, Spain.
A 47-year-old Dutch citizen, head of the criminal group, a 38-year-old Polish citizen, and two Moroccan citizens, aged 36 and 23 years, were arrested for their alleged involvement in drugs, electricity fraud and belonging to a criminal group.
Before the action day at the start of May 2014, several months of evidence gathering by Guardia Civil revealed the existence of the suspected criminal group. They were engaged in large-scale marihuana production, in sufficient quantities to potentially supply the drug to other EU countries. Europol was requested to identify and investigate any possible international links.
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In addition to the four arrests, searches of two premises in Olivellas resulted in the following seizures: a marihuana plantation consisting of 1,103 adult plants, 100 mother plants (for cuttings), 6,150 new plants from cuttings, and a box of marihuana buds, ready for distribution. Another marihuana plantation with 531 adult plants, high voltage lamps, power transformers, magneto thermal switches, fans, hygrometers and ventilation equipment was found in the second raid.
The individuals who formed the group had specific functions and roles, and their specialised cultivation techniques and sophisticated growing facilities ensured the rapid growth and production of their cannabis sativa plants. In both plantations modern industrial farming techniques were used to increase the number of crops and therefore produce high yields. Normally there would be only one annual crop but their methods produced up to four crops a year, containing high levels of the main psychoactive ingredient, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Furthermore, and to achieve this increase in crop yields, the group members accelerated the natural rate of growth and flowering of the plants using genetic selection techniques, to produce their 100 “mother plants”, as well as special lighting and heating, special soils, fertilisers and irrigation schedules.
Operating such growing facilities and equipment requires high power consumption, and both of the plantations illegally tapped into the mains electricity supply.