Drug accused in custody after police raid

A MAN accused of running one of the most sophisticated hydroponic cannabis operations  seen in the Hunter may apply for bail next week after he faced a Maitland court on Friday.

Luke David Salmon, 36, is accused of cultivating more than 450 hydroponically grown cannabis plants in a shed at Salt Ash that police estimate cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up.

Port Stephens police spent hours dismantling the operation on Thursday following a tipoff to Crime Stoppers before Mr Salmon, whose address was given as Nelson Bay Road, Salt Ash, was arrested.

He was later charged with enhanced indoor cultivation of cannabis for commercial purposes and supplying a large commercial quantity of cannabis.

Police issued a statement yesterday stating that more than 200kilograms of the drug was seized.

The first charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment while the second carries 20 years.

Mr Salmon, who wore a blue T-shirt and black trackpants during his brief court appearance, was also charged with two counts of possessing drugs, which relate to 12 LSD trips and cannabis leaf.

Police estimated that the operation would have cost more than $200,000 to establish and may have been operating for more than a year.

They found plants growing under artificial lighting and plants and leaves drying on  wires inside the shed.

Police also seized a black Holden HSV ute, a ride-on lawn mower and a jet-ski.

Mr Salmon did not apply for bail or enter pleas.

His case was adjourned to Raymond Terrace Local Court next week where he is expected to apply for bail.

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