Joint directors of a Barry Plant franchise have been charged after police uncovered cannabis crops in a number of properties under their management.
Eight men were charged after police executed 16 search warrants at properties across Melbourne’s north seizing about 3,000 plants.
Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy told The Age that the company was ''shocked and dismayed'' at the pair's alleged involvement.
''We've taken immediate steps to contact the property owners. This was an isolated office. It's owned by these two individuals who have nothing to do with the operation of other Barry Plant offices apart from the Thomastown branch, which they also manage,” he told The Age.
A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed Whittlesea Crime Investigation Unit detectives had uncovered hydroponic setups at residential properties in Epping, Wollert, South Morang and Mill Park, as part of the ongoing investigation.
“Nothing like this has occurred in our history. These are serious charges and everyone in our group, from head office right through to our 82 franchises, is shocked and dismayed,” Mr McCarthy said in a statement on Saturday.
Barry Plant is working with the property owners to deal with the extensive damage left behind by the setup.
Victorian police said the directors have been charged with aid/abett cultivate and trafficking a large commercial quantity of drugs.
A 52 year-old Epping man has been charged with a number of counts of cultivating a commercial quantity of drugs.
Five western suburbs men have been charged with separate counts of cultivating and trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs.
A 36 year-old Thomastown man has been released pending further enquiries.