, PRAGUE, Aug 19 – Czech authorities announced Wednesday they had dismantled a major cannabis network and arrested 21 suspected members from Vietnam, following a six-month drugs operation by police and customs officers.
Most of the cannabis was destined for export and had an estimated annual value of 100 million Czech korunas (four million euros, five million dollars), Pavel Hoffman, head of the customs drugs unit told reporters.
The network was "made up exclusively of Vietnamese, highly organised, professional," Pavel said, adding that the main export destinations were Austria, Hungary and Slovakia.
Out of the 21 arrested, 12 could face between 10-18 years in prison, and the nine others, all employees on the cannabis farms, could face between two to 10 years in prison, the head of the Czech National Drugs Headquarters said.
"The people employed as gardeners on the farms often had experience of cultivating marijuana acquired in Britain or in Scandinavian countries, and they were paid around 1,500 to 2,000 euros a month", said Jakub Frydrych.
The joint operation involving Czech police and customs, took place simultaneously in several regions of the central European country on August 4, capping six months of investigations and preparations, Frydrych said.
Several hundreds of people were involved in the operation that uncovered eight large farms mainly in western and central regions of the country.