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Switched On Gardener owner guilty of drugs charges

Published: 5:04PM Wednesday December 05, 2012 Source: ONE News

The owner of a hydroponic gardening chain, accused of being a "one stop shop" for growing cannabis, has been found guilty on drugs charges this afternoon.

Switched On Gardener owner Michael Quinlan and General Manager Peter Bennett were found guilty of supplying equipment to grow cannabis, but both men were found not guilty of belonging to an organised criminal group.

A further three of their colleagues were acquitted of all charges following a nine week trial at the Auckland District Court.

The five men faced up to 19 charges each, including two charges of participating in an organised crime group, one of possessing equipment and material used to cultivate cannabis and up to 16 charges each of supplying the equipment and materials used to cultivate cannabis.

The two year undercover Operation Lime targeted businesses and individuals responsible for the commercial sale of equipment used in the growing of cannabis.

The sting resulted in the arrest of 250 people and saw the Switched on Gardener stores close temporarily.