Major rise in cultivation of cannabis
THERE has been a major rise in the cultivation of cannabis plants in the West Cork area this year with garda detection rates up 300 per cent on last year, according to newly-released crime figures for the area.
Already this year there have been 30 incidents of cultivation of cannabis in the West Cork Garda Division, which stretches from Castletownbere to Kinsale, taking in Kanturk in North Cork. This compares to 15 detections in 2009 and even fewer in 2008.
'We consider this a major increase and we are finding that the cannabis growing operations are becoming increasingly sophisticated,' Inspector Brendan Fogarty, of the Garda Divisional Headquarters in Bandon, said this week.
The Divisional Drugs Unit, which is based in Bandon, carried out some major drugs searches in recent weeks, especially during the month of August, which is one of the biggest harvesting seasons for cannabis. A special garda operation to detect the growing of cannabis plants was put in place for August.
Drugs unit officers found 200 fully-grown cannabis plants, which were detected on arable land, in an area north of Dunmanway.
A local man in his 20s has been arrested and a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). This find prompted another search in the Tarelton area of Macroom and during that search gardai found 15 cannabis plants. In all of the West Cork division, instances of cannabis cultivation are up by 300 per cent in 2010.
Inspector Fogarty explained that gardai are also finding very sophisticated planning and organisation systems for growing the illegal plant. In one case, they found cannabis plants growing in an underground bunker, in which drugs squad officers seized 150 maturing cannabis plants. Gardai are also coming across more elaborate systems of lighting and watering. In one instance, gardai searching the attic of a house found a sophisticated lighting system and a system for watering the plants. The cannabis plants need proper feeding, lighting and watering in order to thrive.
Files to DPP
Inspector Fogarty confirmed that files in all of the cases have been sent to the DPP and gardai expect cases to come before the courts in the months ahead.
He added that some of the people involved in the drugs operations were coming to West Cork from other countries but, unfortunately, local young people were starting to intertwine with the groups of non-Irish nationals and were becoming involved in their operations.
Inspector Fogarty appealed to the members of the public to contact the gardai if they had information about suspicious activity in their areas.
'Anybody with any information about people who may be growing cannabis, or cutivating any other illegal drugs, in the West Cork area are advised to contact Bandon garda station on 023-8852200. They will be put in contact with the Divisional Drugs Unit and all information will be treated in strict confidence by the gardai,' he said.
Last month €65,000 worth of cannabis was seized during a raid on a remote farmhouse in Kealkil, Bantry. Five kilos of cannabis grass, and a number of partially-dried cannabis plants valued at between €4,000 and €5,000, were recovered after a six-man garda team searched an occupied farmhouse.
In relation to other crimes in the West Cork area, Inspector Fogarty confirmed that there were quite a number of burglaries earlier this year. Gardai believe a particular group carried out the burglaries and, following an investigation of the incidents, a series of arrests were made earlier this month.
The investigation into the spate of burglaries was co-ordinated by the District Detective Unit, comprising officers from Clonakilty, Bandon, Kanturk, Bantry and Macroom.
Inspector Fogarty thanked the public for their co-operation in the detection of these crimes and he urged people to keep their eyes open and report any suspicious activity to the gardai.
- West Cork interest in new series of MasterChef
- Bandon councillor wants Gateway scheme ended
- Severe storm causes deaths of thousands of farmed salmon
- HSE publishes childhood obesity surveillance data
- Dohenys and Bantry Blues advance in SW U21 A football championship
- Hayes doesn't fear Cork U21s trip to Kerry
- 26-year-old man dies in a farming accident in Clonakilty
- Remembering Rachel
- West Cork jockeys bid for Cheltenham glory
- Public shut out of popular Gougane Barra amenity