MORE than 70 cannabis plants, a firearm and bullets were seized during a raid on a Cooranbong property on Thursday.
Drug squad detectives arrested two men, aged 20 and 44, and took them to Toronto police station where they were each charged with cultivating cannabis.
The younger man was also charged with firearm-related offences.
Both were granted conditional bail to face Newcastle Local Court on January 30, 2013.
Police bust Salt Ash drug grower
By SAM RIGNEY
A SENIOR detective has labelled a multi-million dollar cannabis operation allegedly operating out of a shed at Salt Ash the most elaborate drug-growing system he has ever seen.
It took 16 police more than 9 hours last night to count more than 400 mature cannabis plants that were allegedly located inside a garage attached to a home in Nelson Bay Road.
Raymond Terrace detectives raided the property about midday, allegedly uncovering a sophisticated hydroponic cannabis set-up with equipment and paraphernalia valued at more than $200,000.
By 11pm they were still counting the number of crops hanging from wires or planted in pots, each valued at between $3000 and $5000.
A Salt Ash man, 35, was arrested and taken to Raymond Terrace police station, where he was expected to be charged with several drug-related offences including supplying a large, commercial quantity of cannabis.
Port Stephens Detective Sergeant Andrew Wheatley said the raid was a great result and showed police were committed to smashing major drug operations in the command.
‘‘This is the most elaborate system I have ever seen,’’ he said.
‘‘From the outside it just looks like your stock standard rural property; you wouldn’t expect to find anything illegal in the shed.
‘‘But it’s a very well-organised operation that would have had to be in place for longer than 12 months,’’ he said.
‘‘This is a major operation; we will allege that the offender was not just supplying the Port Stephens region but wider areas as well.’’
Detective Sergeant Wheatley said the arrest came after a Crime Stoppers tip-off.
Police also seized a black Holden HSV ute, a ride-on lawn mower and a jet-ski that were taken away on a tow-truck.