TALLINN - The Estonian police discovered an unprecedented underground cannabis farm at the start of February and are suspecting 10 people of unlawful cultivation of cannabis and handling of a large amount of narcotic substance.
As a result of criminal proceedings, the location of the cannabis farm was discovered in the Rouge rural municipality in Voru County. The entrance to the cannabis factory was hidden in what appeared to be an ordinary house. Inside the building there was an entrance to an industrial-scale production facility on two underground floors.
Head of the criminal bureau of the North Prefecture Urmet Tambre said that major investments had clearly been made in the production as this is the most complex cannabis production facility found in Estonia so far, both in terms of construction and equipment.
"The two underground floors had been fitted with special lighting and heating devices, ventilation and irrigation systems," Tambre said.
In the course of a search of the building and underground facilities, around 240 growing cannabis plants with a total mass of 73 kilograms were confiscated along with numerous pieces of equipment.
As part of the case, the police have grounds to suspect 10 people of drug offenses. At the request of the prosecutor's office and with permission from the court, some of the suspects have already been arrested in pretrial proceedings.
North District Prosecutor Liis Vainola, who is in charge of the investigation, said that there have only been rare occasions where attempts have been made to create a cannabis factory of such a scale in Estonia. It was an extremely well-thought-out and carefully planned illegal operation aimed at generating long-term criminal income, she said.
"Although according to judicial practice, cannabis is considered a lighter type of narcotic substance, the danger of cannabis should not be underestimated. The people who established the farm and hoped to earn income from it could have caused drug intoxication to about 100,000 people by selling the cannabis plants found and confiscated by the police, and could have earned more than 500,000 euros of criminal income from the wholesale of the plants and as much as 1.9 million euros from retail sales."
In the course of expert analysis, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the plants was found to be extraordinary high at 24 percent.
"The narcotic substance having such a powerful effect promised a large criminal income for the criminals, which according to their own prognosis could have amounted to several million euros per year," Tambre said.
The investigation is being conducted by the service for narcotics and organized crime at the criminal bureau of the North Prefecture and led by the North District Prosecutor's Office.