Trio bailed after police raid alleged grow house
Police had bugs, phone taps and surveillance cameras targeting a house suspected of being used to grow cannabis for months before it was flooded last year and investigators were forced to swoop.
Three men have been charged with cultivating a trafficable quantity of cannabis after Canberra's largest crop seizure in more than a year.
After an almost seven-month investigation, Yazin al-Naqib, Nabel Quzag and his brother Mohanad Quzag have pleaded not guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court.
Big bust ... One of the arrested men. Photo: Supplied
Police allege the trio was responsible for growing 98 cannabis plants potentially worth more than $350,000.
But the three were released on bail on Thursday after defence lawyers successfully argued their clients already had ample opportunity to flee the territory if they intended to do so.
The investigation began in July last year when police started monitoring an ''optical surveillance device'' on 23 Dagmar Berne Street in Macgregor, according to court documents. It is alleged police watched Naqib and the Quzag brothers come and go repeatedly between September and November.
On one occasion, the three men were allegedly seen shifting items from a van into the garage of the double-storey house.
Detective Senior Constable Geordy Araya-Bishop told the court Naqib, 24, stayed at the house overnight several times. Police allege listening devices captured conversations about drugs and cultivation. In November, a passer-by spotted water pouring from the second floor. Police arrived and switched off the electricity to avoid electrocution but, when firefighters entered the house, they found the meter had been bypassed and the power remained on.
Investigators subsequently discovered what Senior Constable Araya-Bishop called a ''sophisticated hydroponics set-up''. Mature plants filled every room except the kitchen and laundry, which had hydroponics equipment and liquid fertiliser.
Officers returned to the house the following day and found the Quzags and two women removing furniture.
On Wednesday this week, police went to the Quzags' Charnwood home with search warrants.
They arrested the three men and allegedly seized clothing matching that worn by the defendants during the surveillance and fertiliser similar to that found at the house.
Senior Constable Araya-Bishop said they discovered documents relating to 23 Dagmar Berne Street. It is also alleged police found Mohanad Quzag's fingerprints inside the house.
The prosecution opposed bail on Thursday, arguing the trio might interfere with an ongoing investigation or flee the territory.
Senior Constable Araya-Bishop also said police believed the Quzag brothers were drug users, and the listening devices had picked up a bubbling noise that sounded like a bong. But Naqib's solicitor, Ben Aulich, said the media coverage after the find made the crop ''a pretty well-known bust''.
The Quzags' solicitor Kamy Saeedi said: ''Anybody, you would have thought, with any involvement, would be looking with eager, keen eyes at what's going to happen.'' But the prosecution noted Nabel Quzag, 21, recently missed a court appointment over an unrelated matter, saying he had ''more important things to do''.
Magistrate Bernadette Boss agreed to grant bail and all must report to police daily, surrender their passports and give a $3000 surety. Naqib is also banned from contacting the other two men.
The case resumes in March.