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Mind Pilot

Registered: 02/09/09
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Parents join outlaws in cannabis oil production in Melbourne suburbs
    #417439 - 05/13/10 10:33 PM (8 years, 1 month ago)

OUTLAW suburban labs making cannabis oil have emerged as the latest menace in Victoria's backyard drug industry.

Police fear someone will be killed by one of the set-ups, which have already been linked to three blasts and fires in Melbourne.

Two men remain in hospital weeks after an explosion wrecked a house in Williamstown.

Police are investigating whether the fire was caused by chemicals being used in cannabis oil production.

Investigators believe the same process caused a massive blast that blew away part of a block of flats in Hawthorn East in October.

An earlier fire that wrecked a house in Seaford is also suspected of being linked to production of cannabis oil.

The oil is sought because it has a high concentration of the hallucinogenic properties of cannabis. Its extraction is one element of the home-based illicit drug industry, ranging from high-level commercial amphetamine operations to small set-ups put together by "mum and dad" users.

The clandestine laboratory squad, which concentrates on the bigger factories, made 112 busts last year, enlisting the help of local detectives.

The figure was 19 just eight years ago.

Police believe there would be hundreds, of varying sizes, scattered around the state.

"I've got no doubt there would be," said squad member Det-Insp Ken Ashworth.

"It seems the more we scrape the more we find."

Amphetamine is the most commonly manufactured but its derivative, ice, and GBH have also been found.

Det-Sgt Jason Goddard, of the arson and explosives squad, said home drug production was an extreme hazard. "It's a high-risk activity. It's highly volatile. It creates a very powerful vapour explosion," Det-Sgt Goddard said.

"It's not necessarily a naked flame that will set it off. Switching on a light can ignite it. How some of these people survive, I don't know."

Police say the public can help them detect illegal labs in their neighbourhood.

They say such activity can sometimes be indicated by:

STRONG unexplained chemical odours, some of which have been likened to the smell of cat's urine.

PEOPLE frequenting a property at odd times.

CURTAINS being closed during the day.

LARGE numbers of discarded chemical bottles including ammonia and caustic soda.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.


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