Barry Plant Epping estate agents charged over rental property marijuana crops

The belief that high times may be returning to the Melbourne property market may have been taken a little too literally by two Epping estate agents who have been charged with a number of drug-related offences after rental properties they manage were allegedly used to grow hydroponic marijuana.

Following raids last week, two directors and the joint owners of Barry Plant Epping have been charged by Victoria Police after the discovery of hydroponic setups at residential properties in Epping, Wollert, South Morang and Mill Park.

Twenty-five properties managed by Barry Plant Epping were allegedly used for the marijuana-growing operations.

So far Whittlesea Crime Investigation Unit detectives have executed 16 warrants and located about 3,000 cannabis plants as part of an ongoing investigation.

According to the Herald Sun, the alleged elaborate drug labs were set up at a cost of more than $660,000.

Five western suburbs men allegedly rented the homes since November and cultivated the crops.

Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy said he was ''shocked and dismayed'' at alleged activities of the two directors adding that the real estate group operated independently of the Epping franchise.

The two directors charged are not employed by Barry Plant, but could lose their franchising licence with the group if the alleged offences are proven.

McCarthy said Barry Plant had taken immediate steps to contact the property owners whose properties had been turned into drug labs.

He added that the two men have professed their innocence and are co-operating with Barry Plant head office.

“Nothing like this has occurred in our history. These are serious charges and everyone in our group, from head office right through our 82 franchises, is shocked and dismayed," McCarthy said in a statement on Saturday.

Victorian police said a 52-year-old Greenvale man and a 52-year-old Lalor man have been charged with aid/abett cultivate and traffic a large commercial quantity of drugs.

A 52-year-old Epping man has been charged with a number of counts of cultivate a commercial quantity of drugs.

Five western suburbs men have been charged with separate counts of cultivate and traffic commercial quantity of drugs.

A 36-year-old Thomastown man has been released pending further enquiries.

Last December, Property Observer reported on trouble for an Adelaide tenant after photos allegedly showing cannabis growing in two pot plants in the backyard of a Henley Beach South house were inadvertently included in a real estate ad.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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