Belgian drugs farmer back at home
The West Flemish cannabis farmer Patrick Lagrou is back at home with his wife in Zandvoorde, near Ieper.
At the beginning of the month, the authorities discovered the biggest cannabis plantation ever in Belgium on the man's farm. Due to serious procedural mistakes the six people arrested in the case were released.
The police had seized the farm and confiscated goods. Patrick Lagrou, his wife, daughter and three Brazilian nationals were released in the case against them because serious procedural mistakes were made. Lagrou and his wife were staying in a hotel in Ieper until yesterday and the police were guarding the farm.
The couple wanted to return home and threatened to take legal action if they were not allowed to.
Three weeks ago detectives raided the Lagrou farm and discovered the biggest cannabis plantation ever to be found in Belgium. The some 145,000 plants are good for an annual yield of €8 million. Lagrou has a number of very expensive cars and this made the police suspicious. They raided the farm, found the cannabis plantation and arrested Patrick Lagrou, his wife, daughter and three Brazilian nationals.
A few days later the six were released.
The investigating magistrate had forgotten to fill in the reason for the house search and no search warrant was found.
Due to serious procedural mistakes in gathering evidence the Ghent magistrates ordered their release at the request of the defence council.
"All is not lost"
Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck (Flemish Christian Democrat) had earlier told VRT that he was disappointed with the decision to release the suspects.
However, he believes that they can still be brought to justice.
"I think that everything will be done to see how the evidence collected can be used. I don't wish to say any more other than that I hope the judicial authorities do their job."
It is unclear what the authorities will do. If the criminal proceedings are dropped Lagrou will be allowed to keep the yields from his drugs trade, including luxury cars and about a half a million euro in cash.