Bedfordshire Police has dismantled a large scale cannabis factory – the 100th the force has discovered since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
The factory was discovered in a commercial building located in an industrial estate near Shefford. The number of cannabis factories discovered by the force this year is up by more than 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Officers executed a warrant at the address on Monday, October 19. Seven separate units were found to be modified to accommodate large scale cannabis cultivation.
The building was insulated and fitted with extraction systems to avoid detection from things like heat detection technology.
Weapons including a starter pistol were discovered by police at the address, while there were also signs that people had been living and working at the farm.
Cannabis is, by weight, the most seized drug in Bedfordshire. Research led by Bedfordshire Police last year suggests that around £59 million is spent on cannabis by drug users in the county every year.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn, from the force’s Intelligence unit, said: “This location was used for growing cannabis on an industrial scale. The property had been adapted in a ‘professional’ manner to avoid detection by law enforcement.
“The people behind these operations are out to do one thing – make money. And they don’t care who they exploit or take advantage of in order to make this money.
“Cannabis production can fuel organised immigration crime, with people being trafficked into the country to work on these farm. We are also seeing an increasing trend of children, some not even in their teens yet, being groomed and coerced into selling cannabis on behalf of these gangs.
“These criminals are operating on a simple supply and demand basis. They use cannabis as an easy source of income to fuel their criminal enterprises – and we won’t stand for it.”
There are some key signs that a property is being used to cultivate drugs:
- A powerful distinctive sweet, sickly aroma
- Frequent visitors throughout the day and night
- Blacked out windows
- Chinks of bright light throughout the night
- Birds gathering on the roof, particularly in cold weather
- In winter, snow melting unusually quickly on the roof
- High levels of condensation on windows
- Noise from fans
- Large amounts of rubbish, including compost bags
- Electricity meter being tampered with/altered and new cabling, sometimes leading to street lighting.
If you suspect that a property in your neighbourhood is used to grow cannabis you can report your concerns by visiting the force’s online reporting centre or by calling 101.
You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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