Ahmedabad trio pulls Lock, Sock and Two Smoking Barrels to grow ganja in their flat

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 05, 2023 | 15:48

Ahmedabad trio pulls Lock, Sock and Two Smoking Barrels to grow ganja in their flat

In an unprecedented case in Gujarat, three individuals, including a woman, were recently booked by the Sarkhej Police for cultivating cannabis using hydroponic techniques in a flat located in Orchid Legacy, Makarba, Ahmedabad - their modus operandi uncannily similar to a certain Guy Ritchie flick. 

What happened

This illicit operation came to light when concerned residents reported suspicious parcels frequently moving in and out of the flat. Acting on these tips, the police conducted a raid on the premises and discovered an astonishing 100 flower pots used for cultivating cannabis.

  • The cultivators were employing hydroponic methods and amino acids to expedite the growth of cannabis plants.
  • A total of 48 cannabis plants, ranging from 3 to 5 inches in height, were seized.

The clandestine operation feels awfully similar to Guy Ritchie's 1998 British black-comedy, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which features a familiar indoor cannabis cultivation racket out of a small flat in Britain. 

What is hydroponic cultivation

This method of hydroponic cultivation is unusual in Gujarat, and allowed the accused to significantly accelerate the growth process, contrary to the usual 150-160 days required for cannabis plants to mature. The accused utilised various techniques to maintain optimal conditions for plant growth.

  • They closely monitored temperature, maintaining it between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, and employed a humidity maintenance meter.
  • An automatic drip irrigation system was in place, and the humidity level was carefully controlled not to exceed 80 percent.
  • Fertility growth chemicals were also utilised in this operation, with a woman accused being responsible for managing the cultivation process.

The money

This illicit operation had been running for approximately one and a half months before being uncovered. The accused had rented two flats in the apartment complex and constructed a makeshift greenhouse for cannabis cultivation. Each flat was rented for a substantial sum of Rs 35,000 per month.

  • From the location, the police confiscated 11,625 grams of ganja, valued at Rs 1.15 lakh, along with accessories worth Rs 4.87 lakh.
  • No ganja had been sold from this location at the time of the raid, but samples of chemically treated wet powder were found.

The accused

The accused were identified as people from Eastern states, primarily Jharkhand. They had a well-organised operation, with one of the accused's brothers sourcing specific chemicals from Chennai for the cultivation process. Forensic experts were called in to determine the exact quantity of cannabis produced.

The three individuals arrested in this operation were Ravi Musarka, Viren Mahadi, and Ratika Prasad. They were booked under the relevant sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

  • The alleged mastermind of the operation, Ujjwal, who had studied agriculture and possessed knowledge of hydroponic cultivation, remains at large.
  • Ratika Prasad, one of the accused, had a Bachelor's degree in Computer Applications and was responsible for technical operations such as controlling humidity and temperature through a computerised system. 

The accused chose Gujarat for their indoor farming operation due to the state's reliable and continuous power supply, which is crucial for maintaining controlled temperature conditions.

As part of the investigation, the police also seized 48 planters, water tanks, RO plants, oxygen cylinders, air conditioning units, fans, and various other items related to the illicit hydroponic cultivation. The investigation is ongoing, and further details will be revealed as it progresses.

Meanwhile in Chennai

In a case similar to the one in Ahmedabad, a few months ago in Chennai, a group of individuals found themselves on the wrong side of the law. These four individuals had ingeniously transformed a room in their rented apartment into a makeshift greenhouse. This "grow-op" was equipped with LED lights to mimic natural sunlight and an air-conditioning system to regulate the climate, all in the service of cultivating ganja, a prohibited substance.

  • Their illicit operation came to an abrupt end when a special police team from the North Beach police station in Chennai intervened.
  • Their investigation was set in motion when an undercover officer posed as a potential customer and engaged with a ganja peddler who ultimately led the authorities to the apartment.
  • The police seized a substantial haul of evidence during their operation, including 3 kilograms of ganja and LSD stamps, which further compounded the charges against the arrested individuals.

These fresh cases underscore the convergence of technology - like the use of hydroponic cultivation and LED lights - with illegal enterprises that continue to present unique challenges for authorities in their ongoing efforts to combat drug-related offenses.

Last updated: September 05, 2023 | 15:49
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