A man allegedly linked to a "sophisticated" criminal syndicate is facing serious drug charges after the seizure of cannabis plants estimated to be worth more than $1 million.
Police charged Anh Duc Pham with cultivating and trafficking a commercial quantity of cannabis after raids in Canberra's north on Monday revealed four grow houses in as many suburbs.
The 44-year-old appeared briefly in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday, and did not enter pleas.
Prosecutor Luke Crocker told the court Mr Pham had overstayed his bridging visa and two Australian Border Force officers were waiting in court to interview the Vietnamese national if he was granted bail.
But the officers left without Mr Pham because a language barrier meant he was unable to understand court proceedings, prompting Magistrate Bernadette Boss to remand him in custody overnight.
Mr Pham is due to appear in court again on Wednesday, this time with a Vietnamese interpreter to assist with a possible bail application.
The investigation allegedly led police to rental homes in Belconnen, Bonner, Moncrieff and Harrison that each contained "sophisticated and extensive hydroponic set-ups" to support the cultivation of commercial cannabis crops.
Police say they seized 230 cannabis plants and 51 seedlings with an estimated street value of more than $1 million, along with more than $90,000 worth of dried cannabis, from the four homes.
Detective Superintendent Mick Calatzis told media on Monday that people had used fake identity documents to secure rental tenancies at each of the Canberra grow houses, where items like shoe racks were strategically placed to give the impression people were living inside.
Homeowners were unaware of any illicit activity and were now likely to be thousands of dollars out of pocket because of damage and contamination, while property managers were also not complicit in any wrongdoing.
Detective Superintendent Calatzis said police believed the grow houses were linked to "a sophisticated, organised" criminal network operating across Australia's east coast, and with ties to the Vietnamese community.
He said there were "a number of persons of interest" associated with Mr Pham and that investigations into the alleged criminal syndicate were ongoing.
"They're highly mobile. They're highly sophisticated at the same time, and the moment any tenant manager has asked for an inspection, they quickly patch up and they leave," he said.
"That's why we believe there are a number of persons of interest."
Detective Superintendent Calatzis said investigations suggested the alleged criminal syndicate had sent cannabis interstate from the Canberra grow houses and received payments in exchange.
"For us, that's criminality of a high order," he said.
Detective Superintendent Calatzis said police suspected there would be "more to follow" from the ongoing investigation.
The ACT's cannabis legalisation laws, which came into effect on January 31, only allow adults to cultivate two plants each or four per household, and to possess up to 50 grams of dried cannabis. Anything beyond these quantities remains illegal, as does supplying the drug and employing any kind of hydroponic growing set-up.