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Police task force hammers drug crime syndicate

Police have arrested five men and seized a large amount of cannabis as part of an investigation into an organised crime syndicate operating in Melbourne.

Properties across the city were searched on Wednesday and Thursday by officers of the VIPER task force

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Police say a 30-year-old Kew man, a 37-year-old Coimadai man and a 41-year-old Melton West man have been charged with commercial cultivation of cannabis and remanded in custody.

A 53-year-old Lalor man was charged with possess drug of dependence and possess proceeds of crime and released on bail.

A 59-year-old Glen Waverley man is likely to be charged with commercial cultivation of cannabis.

Police seized more than $210,000 in cash, an imitation hand grenade and cannabis from a Lalor address, as well as a large quantity of dismantled hydro equipment and cannabis from the Glen Waverley address.

About 30 to 40 cannabis plants were seized from an address in Bellfield, Mary’s Extreme Strength Bunnies 300mg with plants also seized from another Bellfield property and an address in Tarneit.

The investigation commenced in October 2022 when police located a crop house with more than 30kg of cannabis in Fawkner.

In total, 135kg of cannabis with a street value of about $700,000 has been seized during the operation.

Detective Acting Inspector Leigh Howse said the seizures meant “a significant quantity of drugs is now on a one-way ticket to being destroyed”.

“We will continue to cripple organised crime entities determined to line their pockets through illicit means and ultimately, to the severe detriment of the rest of the community.”