Guilty plea to hidden hydro weed operation

A LENNOX Head man who admitted to setting up a sophisticated hydroponic cannabis operation has pleaded guilty to the commercial supply of the drug.

Steven Allan Chaloner was one of seven men arrested when police raided a rural Mt Burrell property on June 23 this year.

During a search of the home police located a wardrobe with a false backing concealing the locked entrance to a cannabis growing room.

Plants were discovered under lights, fans, a timed watering system and nutrients and chemicals used for "enhanced indoor cultivation" of the drug.

An agronomist identified a total of 46 plants in stages of cultivation in the growing room.

In a central lounge room which police allege was used for the trimming and packaging of cannabis leaf, police also located several pairs of scissors, a cryo-vac machine, and a series of small tubs containing "green vegetable matter".

Inside a bedroom police found three 80 litre barrels of cannabis leaf, while scattered throughout the residence they located 19 bags of cryo-vacced cannabis lead weighing about 450g each. Police also found $6300 in Chaloner's car, $1065 in his wallet and a diary with ledgers and figures.

Chaloner later admitted to setting up the operation and the contents of his diary revealed the employment of a gang of "trimmers" paid $200 "per pound" of trimmed cannabis leaf.

Police seized a total of 67.79kg of cannabis leaf, while a subsequent search of Chaloner's Lennox Head residence revealed 63g of resin and $5000 cash.

In Lismore Local Court, Chaloner pleaded guilty to the indoor cultivation of commercial cannabis, commercial supply of a prohibited drug, supplying an indictable and commercial quantity of cannabis, and other offences. He will be sentenced in the Lismore District Court on November 21.

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