31/07/2014 Durban Cato Ridge drug Bust PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Durban - Police have made another massive drug bust - this time a hydroponic dagga laboratory at an unassuming farm house outside Camperdown.

Acting on a tip-off, police from the KwaDukuza cluster task team, its public order policing unit and their Chatsworth crime intelligence colleagues pounced and discovered what was described as a “sophisticated drug lab”.

One man, apparently an employee of the operation’s mastermind, was arrested at the house.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrients in water, without soil. It is believed to fast-track the growing process.

It’s believed there were two labs on the premises but The Mercury only managed to view one, which was in a garage.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said 1 174 plants, processed hydroponic dagga in buckets and plastic bags with an estimated street value of R3 million, were seized.

“A .38 revolver was also seized with 57 live rounds of ammunition. Police arrested a 38-year-old man and he will be charged with dealing in dagga. He will appear in court soon and police are still searching for other suspects.”

Police combed the yard while others loaded dagga plants into a truck. Among equipment confiscated were various computers and electrical wires. Several books, some with dagga images on their covers, were sealed in evidence bags and placed in the truck.

Two dirty cars were in the yard while a motorbike, with its keys in the ignition, was found under a cover beside a filthy pool.

An officer at the scene said the “mastermind” apparently fled with his “girlfriend” a few hours before police swooped.

The operation brings the number of major drug busts in the province to three in two months.

In late June, police discovered hundreds of bags of what they suspected was heroin, as well as industrial manufacturing machines, a scale and other containers at an upmarket Kloof house. Police initially estimated the value to be more than R3 billion but that was later revised to about R20m when they determined that the drug was actually methaqualone, known as mandrax.

Three men found in the house were arrested. An associate was arrested last week after he handed himself over.

On Thursday last week the Hawks pounced on a drug laboratory outside Waterfall.

Four men were arrested.

The Mercury