INTRODUCTION: Australian police have uncovered the biggest marijuana plantation yet discovered in the country, hidden in a forest north-west of Sydney.
GV Police inspecting marijuana plantation (4 shots)
GV & SVs Irrigation pipes and farm equipment (4 shots)
GV PAN Marijuana plants in field
SV & CU Police examining plants (2 shots)
GV PAN Homestead
GV Tree "landmark"
GV & SVs Plantation (5 shots)
SV Car of alleged kidnapped youths
SV & CUs Marijuana drying on racks
GV Accused husband and wife being led away by police
GV Youths charged with possessing marijuana accompanied by police
WALEY: To the north of Dubbo, in the state forest, lies a property known as Blue Star (indistinct) and its there that police found a three acre cultivated marijuana plot. This was a sophisticated venture, fully irrigated with a supply from specially sunk bores and considerable farm machinery. Part of the crop is only three months old, an acre or so is matured, another area bears seedlings, all hidden by forest. Nearby the homestead, complete with an unusually large spotlight and a suspiciously manicured tree, a landmark for the traffickers, say police. And it was here that five youths from Wollongong, police claim, in search of a little free pot, were allegedly held in custody, menaced by fire-arms and ordered to work the crop for six days after they were discovered by the operators. Their car, it's alleged, had been sabotaged, apparently to prevent escape, and at one stage, it's claimed, one youth's wrists were secured with a detonator attached. Police were alerted after a caretaker discovered marijuana drying on racks on a nearby property. A police stake-out followed, then after a high speed 40 kilometre chase, two more suspects were arrested. Inside their truck police found more dried marijuana and a pump-action double-barrelled shotgun.
Today (27 April) Hans Frederick Boehner and his wife Hannelor were charged with cultivating and selling Indian hemp. Hans Boehner faced two additional counts of kidnapping. Bail was refused. At the same time, five youths charged with possessing marijuana were freed on a hundred dollars bail each to appear again in early May.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Several marijuana plantations have been discovered in New South Wales in the past six months and police say this largest farm indicates that drug rings are stepping up operations in Australia.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Australian police have uncovered the biggest marijuana plantation yet discovered in the country, hidden in a forest north-west of Sydney. The case involves bizarre allegations of youths being kidnapped and used as forced labour. Australian reporter Jim Waley takes up the story: