French police seize thousands of cannabis plants in Alpine raid

An eight-month investigation uncovered an enormous growing operation near Grenoble.

Police this week seized 4,000 vines of cannabis, worth around 1,100 kilos, from a vast indoor cultivation warehouse operated by French and Albanian nationals in a village in south-east France.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, after an eight-month investigation, six people were arrested and imprisoned in connection with the seizure in Morette, a village of around 400 inhabitants located around thirty kilometres west of Grenoble in the French Alps.

At the end of October 2022, police opened a preliminary investigation after information pointed to a warehouse that could be used as an indoor cannabis cultivation site, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

The investigation uncovered “a large-scale trafficking operation” involving an Albanian team associated with Grenoble residents.

On Monday, a judicial operation led to the arrests of four Albanians aged between 18 and 35 as well as a 52-year-old accomplice from Grenoble and the 55-year-old owner of the warehouse.

The huge warehouse housed two complexes. In the first, a 375-square-metre production structure equipped with electrical, ventilation, hydration, UV and drying systems, more than 1,550 plants, or 508 kg of weed, were discovered.

In a second 300-square-metre structure, 2,500 plants totalling 693 kilograms were seized. The growing equipment and plants – worth an estimated €10-15 million in resale value – were destroyed on site with the authorisation of the public prosecutor’s office.

Two Albanian “farm workers” were sentenced this week to 7 and 10 months’ imprisonment with immediate committal to prison, along with a 5-year ban from France.

The other four suspects were brought before the court on Friday and remanded in custody until their sentencing, scheduled for 9 August.

The seizure comes on the heels of a massive drug swoop in the UK, which saw authorities seize 182,000 cannabis plants with an estimated value of between £115 million and £130 million (€134 million to €150 million).

More than 450 people have been criminally charged as a result of the operation, which British police described as “the largest national operation of its kind by UK law enforcement”.


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