A MELBOURNE man has been remanded in police custody after hundreds of thousands of dollars of cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment were seized from a St Arnaud house on Friday.
The 40-year-old appeared in Ararat Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with cultivating and trafficking commercial quantities of cannabis.
He was also charged with theft of electricity and other drug-related offences.
Police said he was remanded in custody to reappear in court in January 2017.
Sergeant Paul Covey said St Arnaud police and the Northern Grampians Divisional Tasking Unit uncovered 416 cannabis plants and a large-scale hydroponics operation at a Howitt Street address.
He said the 40-year-old Melbourne man was arrested at the scene.
In February, a Fairfax Media investigation estimated the street value of a mature cannabis plant in Victoria was $3000.
Police estimated the St Arnaud operation was worth at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
Sergeant Covey said police were still investigating whether the owners of the house were involved or aware of the operation.
He said the seizure and arrest would have a significant impact on drug dealing and use in the area.
“We hope it takes out quite a large amount drugs,” he said.
“It’s taking them off the street in Wimmera and the whole region really.”
He said the operation uncovered was advanced, especially for the Wimmera.
“We located a large-scale and highly sophisticated hydroponic set up and significant operation,” Sergeant Covey said.
“A total of 416 cannabis plants were located throughout eight rooms of the house and in the rear shed.”
Sergeant Covey said the majority of the 416 plants seized were mature and ready to harvest, with some seedlings present.
He said the house’s power meter was bypassed, with stolen electricity used to power the hydroponics set up.
Sergeant Covey said the warrant was executed as a part of an ongoing investigation.