Police in Pärnu County in southwest Estonia have seized one of the largest hauls of cannabis plants in recent years.
Rait Pikaro, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) narcotics and organized crime bureau confirmed to BNS that the cannabis farm in question is one of the largest discovered in Estonia in recent years.
He said: "The duration of the suspects' activities and the criminal proceeds earned are one of the main questions we are seeking answers to in the criminal proceedings. Most importantly, we have stopped the production of banned substances, which are damaging the health of young people in particular. Police efforts to catch drug offenders continue."
District Prosecutor Raigo Aas said that: "The focus of law enforcement agencies is primarily on preventing the activities of people becoming rich from the sale of narcotic substances, and with such large quantities, there is no doubt that cannabis plants were being cultivated for resale. According to the data collected so far in the proceedings, cannabis from the farm in Pärnu County mainly reached the streets of the capital city."
Four men have been arrested in connection with the discovery, made on June 15, BNS reports, which found close to 600 cannabis plants and around 10 kg of processed cannabis resin, along with cultivation paraphernalia (see gallery below).
Attempts to legalize cannabis in Estonia have so far run out of steam; under current law, possession of small quantities, up to 7.5g, is punishable with a fine while being apprehended with larger quantities can carry with it jail time.
The men, two aged 44, one aged 27 and one aged 25, have all been charged with illegal narcotics production which, it is suspected, had been ongoing over a lenthy period of time.
The four suspects will be held in custody over the course of the investigation, on request of the prosecutor's office, which was concerned that the suspects may reoffend if left at large.
The four were actually detained in or near Tallinn.
Criminal proceedings are ongoing and the pre-trial investigation is being conducted by the PPA's narcotics and organized crime service at the North Prefecture's criminal bureau, BNS reports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte