During a massive drug raid undertaken by Victoria Police’s Drug Taskforce, close to 1,200 cannabis plants were confiscated from homes rented in the name of 67-year-old sports bar manager Vasilios Maikantis.

The Greek Australian had reportedly rented the properties – in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs – for an alleged multimillion dollar cannabis syndicate to fund his gambling habit. The seized plants had an estimated street worth of $3 million.

Arrested last week, he was charged with cultivating and trafficking a large commercial quantity of cannabis.

Detective Senior Constable Joshua Renfrey told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court 21 properties had been rented in Maikantis’ name, for a drug syndicate to grow plants, with more raids expected throughout the week.

Maikantis’ application for bail failed, with the court deeming he did not show exceptional circumstances. He reportedly told police the syndicate paid him to rent the properties in his name and to clean up once the marijuana harvests were disassembled.

“That was the crux of his offending. If that goes unaddressed he could continue to offend or reoffend,” Senior Constanble Renfrey said.

Maikantis’s lawyer said his client had only played a minor part in the alleged operation, with investigations ongoing.

He was remanded for committal mention on May 1.