The Australian leader of celebrity religious sect Kabbalah was arrested on drugs charges yesterday after police found cannabis crops growing inside three luxury North Shore properties owned by the woman and her three sons.
Detectives said Gilla Mogilevsky, 53, and her sons, aged 23, 24, and 26, rented a renovated Saint Ives property which they used to oversee three neighbouring homes where they grew up to 1000 plants at a time.
Police swooped on the Kabbalah leader and two of her sons at about 6.30am after raids on the properties in Cowan Rd and Killeaton St.
A third son was detained on the Gold Coast.
The arrests came as the State Government this week tightened legislation on hydroponic cannabis, allowing growers to be charged with cultivating commercial quantities for significantly smaller crops.
Ms Mogilevsky and her sons are facing a maximum 20 years in jail on charges of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis.
Police found around 1000 plants growing in three properties.
Two of the properties were side-by-side. The other two were adjoined.
It was believed the family simply jumped over back fences to monitor the three crops.
Detectives said three of the properties had been bought in the past 12 months, while the family allegedly lived and ran the operation from a nearby fourth property, which was rented.
The homes were believed to be valued at up to $1 million each.
Officers discovered 616 plants in one property alone, all potted and growing under lights.
At two of the homes, plants reaching more than 2m high could be clearly seen through the front window, once police swooped and curtains were drawn.
A further 4.5kg of dried-out cannabis was also recovered.
The Daily Telegraph has learned police were alerted by residents complaining of a smell coming from the properties.
Officers from the State Crime Command drug squad and Ku-ring-gai patrol had been investigating since April.
Police seized a speed boat and several cars under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
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