Five people have been charged and $700,000 worth of marijuana seized – including more than 300 cannabis plants – as part of a major investigation into a swathe of cannabis grow houses in WA, operated by Vietnamese criminal networks.
A vehicle stop in Rockingham last Friday has resulted in multiple arrests and a series of drug busts across WA, after Organised Crime Squad detectives allegedly found seven sealed drums with approximately 25kg of cannabis head material during their search.
A 59-year-old Rockingham man was charged with Possession of Prohibited Drugs with Intent to Sell or Supply (Cannabis), Cultivate Prohibited Plant with Intent to Sell/Supply and Possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property.
He was refused bail and appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Saturday and again on Monday. He is next due in court on June 8.
Following the vehicle stop, three search warrants were executed at properties on Carina Close in Rockingham, Greeson Parkway in Secret Harbour and Trafalgar Place in Queens Park.
It is alleged police seized 56 cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment from the Secret Harbour home, 1kg of cannabis material from the Queens Park property and $3,960 in cash from the Rockingham residence.
A 23-year-old Queens Park man who police allege is linked to the Trafalgar Place residence has been charged with Supplied a Prohibited Drug (Cannabis) and Possession of Prohibited Drugs with Intent to Sell or Supply (Cannabis).
He was refused bail and appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Saturday and Monday. He is next due in court on May 22.
Information gathered during these three raids led Organised Crime Squad detectives to Geraldton on Saturday, were a further seven search warrants were executed with the help of Geraldton detectives
This included two Rangeway homes – one in Petchell Street and the other in Hardman Street – both of which it will be alleged had been established as cannabis grow houses.
There police allegedly found 138 and 127 cannabis plants, respectively.
The other five raids were carried out at a further two homes in Rangeway, as well properties in Narngulu, Bootenal and Geraldton.
Five people have been charged in relation to the offences.
Organised Crime Squad officer in charge, detective senior sergeant Ray Horne, said the Vietnamese established criminal networks operating in Western Australia continue to target residential rental properties, and leave behind them significant damage for the landlords to repair.
“In many cases property owners who self-advertise their properties online are targeted, usually by offenders who pose as a family group and who request that inspections not be undertaken for various reasons,” he said.
“Property owners should stand firm and ensure they have steps in place for them to protect their investment properties.
“The destruction caused to properties through the establishment of a cannabis grow house is extensive and at times involve significant remediation works.
“The damage, which is common to include illegal modifications to the power supply, can also be dangerous – even life-threatening.
“In many cases when police have spoken to neighbours there have been signs of suspicious behaviour – observations including people coming and going at all times of the day and night for short periods of time, or people attending the property not wanting to engage with neighbours or be seen and identified.”
A 40-year-old Rangeway man, who police allege is linked to the two Rangeway properties they searched, has been charged with two counts each of Cultivate a Prohibited Plant with Intent to sell or supply and Fraudulent Appropriation of Power and one count of Possess a Prohibited Drug (Cannabis).
A 61-year-old Rangeway man also allegedly linked to the two Rangeway properties has been charged with two counts of Cultivate a Prohibited Plant with Intent to sell or supply and one count of Misappropriation of Power.
A 42-year-old woman from Victoria Park, who police allege is linked to one of the Rangeway properties as well, has been charged with Cultivate a Prohibited Plant with Intent to sell/supply.
All three were refused bail and appeared in Geraldton Magistrates Court Monday.
They each are next due in court today.
“Early detection of houses being used to grow cannabis will not only help in the arrest of the offenders, but may also help minimise the extent of damage left behind for the property owners to deal with,” Det-Sen Sgt. Horne said.
Police are investigating a possible link between members of this established criminal network and the discovery and seizure of cannabis plants in Red Gully during October 2019.
Anyone with information regarding the location of cannabis grow houses, or other cultivation of cannabis, is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report the information online.