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Last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Large Latvian drugs find

Summary

24 March 2010

Latvian officials have uncovered the country's biggest ever marijuana crop.

3,500 marijuana plants were discovered by customs officials in a surprise raid.

Reporter:
Damien McGuinness

Marijuana plant

Marijuana plants

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It's taken customs officials over a year and a half to find this plantation tucked away in a remote forest clearing in the Latvian countryside.

They first became suspicious when large amounts of marijuana started crossing the border into neighbouring Estonia. Two men have now been arrested. They lived on site, hiding away on the plantation telling relatives that they were working abroad.

Customs officials believe the plantation has been in operation for the past three years, selling marijuana mainly to Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

The plants were grown in a barn, and the marijuana then cleaned and dried in a farmhouse. Three powerful diesel generators were kept in the garage, along with six tons of diesel fuel to keep power supplies going.

But the drug dealers were not taking any chances of discovery. Prying eyes were kept away by high-security surveillance systems and three guard dogs, while the pungent smell of the marijuana plants was covered up by keeping pigs and chickens on site.

Damien McGuinness, BBC, Latvia

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Vocabulary

plantation

large area of land which is used to grow a particular crop or plant

tucked away

hidden in a place which is not easy to find

remote

far away from places where there are many people

became suspicious

began to think something illegal might be happening

on site

in the same area

prying eyes

people who are curious about and interested in seeing what might be happening

high-security surveillance systems

equipment and devices including, for example, cameras and microphones, used to watch an area and protect it from unwanted visitors

pungent

strong, powerful and very distinctive

covered up

kept hidden

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