[WATCH] Massive 550kg cannabis haul in police operation on eve of cannabis lobby manifesto launch

Police raid lands 550kg cannabis haul with street value of millions, junior minister for drugs reform says: 'War on trafficking will be harsher' but hints at legalisation of recreational choice

Assistant Commissioner Dennis Theuma
Assistant Commissioner Dennis Theuma

Police have made a series of arrests in a massive raid that landed a 550kg cannabis haul, whose street value is believed to be "in the millions". Twenty kilos were cannabis buds.

The seizure, which resulted in five arrests, was from two large trucks with Italian licence plates with false bottoms in Fgura and St Julian's. Another smaller vehicle was found carrying a smaller quantity.

One of the arrested is a Maltese national. The other arrests included two Italians and two slovenians.

Assistant Commissioner Dennis Theuma said the arrest came after 24 hours of surveillance. Theuma said the record haul comes a week after a seizure of 70kg of cannabis at sea. He also said €100,000 in cash was found and that charges of money laundering charges were not being excluded.

Theuma said the operation had disrupted the workings of a criminal organisation, and that Magistrate Josette Demicoli is holding an inquiry. 

The operation also comes on the eve of the cannabis legalisation lobby Releaf’s presentation of proposals for changes to drug laws, to take place on Saturday.

The Labour government has indicated that it is open to the relaxation of certain laws on drug use, although details of how it envisions this change have been sketchy.

A statement by parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, who is stewarding the reforms, however pointed out that any reform will include a "harsher war on trafficking".

"I salute the police on this record seizure. The reform entrusted to me by the Prime Minister will see that the war on trafficking will be harsher, but we must see that those who need medical cannabis can use it without further worry. At the same time, we understand the adult choice of wanting to smoke a joint, not for medical purposes, without having to resort to a trafficker but to safer options. This is what we are going to carry out."

She later specified that the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use would be the subject of a consultation process.