DRUG TRAFFICKING

Convict used prison leave to set up record-sized marijuana plantation

Containing 75,000 plants, the site uncovered in Albacete is the largest ever found in Europe

Video: The plantation in Pozo Cañada, Albacete.Video: CIVIL GUARD

An inmate serving time in a Murcia penitentiary used his time out on temporary release to set up the largest marijuana plantation ever discovered on European soil.

P. S. A., a 47-year-old resident of the town of Pozo Cañada, Albacete province, had built a thriving business with a Lithuanian colleague in just three months, according to Civil Guard sources.

The telltale smell had been masked by piles of fertilizer and trash placed along the perimeter

In May, P. S. A. used his furloughs from prison to purchase 30,000 square meters of land in an olive grove in Villarrobledo (Albacete). Then he obtained modified seeds that produce hemp plants no taller than 40 centimeters and that are notable for their high yield.

The venture did so well that the partners soon had 75,000 plants and 155 kilograms of marijuana packed and ready to go out on the market. Sources familiar with the investigation said the final destination of the drug was Barcelona.

Six people have been arrested in connection with Operation Casamonte, including the Lithuanian citizen G. S, 59., who lived on the premises and acted as the manager. Two other suspects are residents of a nearby village and three are Moroccan nationals who took care of the crops using state-of-the-art irrigation technology.

The marijuana seized by the Civil Guard is taken away.
The marijuana seized by the Civil Guard is taken away.RadioAlbacete

The ringleader was already serving time at the Murcia II prison for drug-trafficking offenses.

The merchandise was concealed inside flour sacks and taken out in trucks. Investigators are now trying to find the distribution channels and the origin of the seeds.

This is the first time that a marijuana plantation has been discovered in an olive grove, as they are typically concealed among corn fields. But the unusually short plants looked like grass to the police helicopters, while the telltale smell had been masked with piles of fertilizer and trash placed strategically along the perimeter of the plantation, said investigators.

Security measures were also in place within the grounds: the site had only one entrance, and there were several lookout points from which gang members could detect anyone approaching. Meanwhile, the farmhouse had been converted into a clandestine lab where the plants were dried and processed. The Civil Guard also found opium, hashish and a gun inside the premises.

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