43 arrested, cannabis plants seized during raids in Australia

Police have so far seized 7966 cannabis plants as part of 'Operation Entity', involving 630 personnel working with federal counterparts and officials from the taxation and immigration departments.

Not furnishing details about the nationalities of those arrested, they said there were "strong links" between the cannabis-growing cartel and Vietnam, as well as connections with New Zealand.

Authorities said they expect more people to be arrested after dozens of homes were raided in the massive co-ordinated search.

The arrested were likely to be charged with a range of drug-related offences including--cultivating commercial quantity of cannabis and trafficking of commercial quantity of cannabis and possession, police said, adding they would be remanded overnight and will taken to Melbourne Magistrates' Court tomorrow.

"This is the biggest single mobilisation of Victoria Police against organised crime to date," Deputy Commissioner Ken Jones said.

The raids, codenamed 'Operation Entity', conducted on 64 properties in 32 locations across the state, are still ongoing, with 100 properties expected to be raided by the end of the week, Jones said.

He said assets worth about USD 20 million have already been seized.

Jones strongly denied suggestions that the raids had been timed to coincide with the election week.

"It's absolute rubbish. We're here to get justice for people. We're not going to time our operations to fit any political cycle. The government is not aware of this operation.
"Any fool can go out and bust drug syndicates at the street level," he said.

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