£12m of cannabis found in Victoria vineyard
Two men from New South Wales have been arrested for cultivating a crop of cannabis with a street value of £12m in a neglected vineyard in Victoria.
The crop, the biggest found in Victoria in a decade, was discovered in a vineyard in the King Valley in northeastern Victoria on Monday morning.
According to Australian regional newspaper The Border Mail, James Stammers, 65, and Alam Noor, 38, were charged yesterday at Benalla Magistrates Court where they were remanded in custody without applying for bail.
Between 4,000-6,000 almost-mature cannabis plants were found growing under neglected vines in a 35-hectare vineyard just outside the town of Cheshunt.
Divisional Tasking Unit police from Wangaratta and Wodonga joined Whitfield police and forensic officers from Melbourne to raid the property at 9.30am on Monday.
“It’s the biggest crop I’ve seen in 10 years,” sergeant Damien Loiterton told The Border Mail, adding that the find was the result of a “protracted investigation”.
Officers are investigating where the men intended to sell the crop, which was a month away from harvesting when it was seized this week.
The smell of cannabis hung heavily in the air as police removed the crop, with Loiterton predicting it could take days to clear up the scene.
He said once the cannabis was pulled and weighed, it would be destroyed.
Giving the impression of a working vineyard, cannabis-free vines ran along the road at the front of the property next to a farmhouse.
The cannabis plants were found growing from the eighth-row back in the 49-row vineyard, hiding them from public view.
Police are unsure whether grapes were also being grown and harvested for commercial use from the private vineyard.
According to locals in the area, who had no idea the men were using the vineyard to grow cannabis, the duo had been renting the vineyard for six to nine months.
Stammers and Noor are due to reappear at Wangaratta Magistrates Court on 13 June.