POLICE have busted a grow-op for the first time in Slovakia - a large and sophisticated marijuana-growing operation in a former meat factory complex in Nitra.
Officers with the National Drug Squad arrested the Austrian owner of the operation, Roman M., and another seven Austrian and Hungarian nationals.
"This is the largest factory for growing high-quality marijuana to have been discovered in Slovakia or anywhere in Europe in the past decade," said Ján Packa, president of the Slovak police corps.
The operation, which produced marijuana with an 18 percent concentration of its active ingredient, THC, rather than 2 percent with normal crops, exported 40 kilos of the weed every three weeks, with each shipment being worth an estimated Sk8 million on the market.
The old factory halls were equipped with special grow lamps, fertilizer, incubators, an air filter and equipment for harvesting the crops.
However, despite the precautions, locals said they suspected something was up.
"We figured that something wasn't right. The most activity was at night, when they were loading and shipping their products," said a man from a neighbouring firm for the Sme daily.
The eight suspects face up to 20 years in jail if convicted of trafficking.
- Tom Nicholson
4. Dec 2006 at 0:00