CANNABIS with a street value of up to two million pounds has been seized by police after a raid on whatâ€™s believed to be the largest drugs factory ever found in Coventry.
The â€œindustrial scaleâ€ cannabis farm was uncovered by officers at a commercial unit in Sandy Lane, Radford, when a drugs search warrant was executed just after 8.30am on Monday morning (21 February).
Most of the premisesâ€™ 13,000 square foot floor space was being used to cultivate theÂ class C drug with plants ranging from small saplings in a nursery to fully grown versions ready for harvest. Almost 5,000 cannabis plants were discovered in total.
Sergeant Neil Ward, from Radford neighbourhood policing team, said: â€œIt was a very timely discovery as many of the plants were at maturity and ready to be picked. Initial estimates put the potential yield and value at between one and two million pounds.
â€œThe set up was professional: the growing rooms were separated with studding and double skin vinyl sheeting and the hydroponics were suspended on cabling and set on timers. We estimate the cost of the equipment alone to be around Â£60,000.
â€œIt was also clear this was a 24-hour operation and evidence of live-in farmers as part of the unit had been annexed for living accommodation, beds, cookers and fridges.â€
Two men believed to be of Vietnamese origin were arrested at the scene and are currently helping police with their enquiries.
Officers from the Radford team swooped on the premises following a community tip-off that the premises were being used for illegal activity.
Sergeant Ward said: â€œInformation from residents about suspicious behaviour is vital in our efforts to disrupt offenders and remove them from our neighbourhoods.
â€œWe always welcome this local intelligence and would encourage members of the public to keep talking to us about their concerns.
â€œWe are at our most effective when we all work together and will always deal with intelligence in strict confidence.â€
NEIGHBOURHOOD policing is at its most effective when local officers and members of the public work together to make their community a pleasant, safe place to live.
And nowhere is this more important than the fight to rid Coventryâ€™s neighbourhoods of illegal drug manufacture operations.
â€˜Cannabis factoriesâ€™ are increasingly being identified and closed down by Coventry Police as information about properties is shared amongst partner organisations and suspect premises are monitored.
Earlier this week an industrial unit in Sandy Lane, Radford, was raided by officers and brought in what is believed to be the largest ever haul of 5,000 cannabis plants with a potential street value of between one and two million pounds.
These are not amateur set-ups with casual dope smokers tending window boxes. Most feature elaborate light, heat, timing and irrigation systems, whilst the walls, floors and ceilings of rooms are covered with insulating sheets â€“ all with the intention of harvesting drugs quickly and on a large scale.
Such operations attract an undesirable element into communities which in turn can increase crime and anti-social behaviour; sometimes the factories themselves are targeted by thieves.
Local intelligence is vital in the policeâ€™s efforts to disrupt offenders and remove them from the cityâ€™s neighbourhoods.
But although police are starting to receive a growing number of tip-offs from members of the public about suspicious behaviour, it seems many still â€œdonâ€™t want to troubleâ€ them with information.
On the contrary, officers welcome reports of illegal drug cultivation and always deal with the information in strict confidence.
Here are some of the signs that may indicate a property is being used as a cannabis factory:
Landlords are also being asked to visit properties on a regular basis, every few months, to check everythingâ€™s in order. If tenants insist on speaking on the doorstep, or wonâ€™t allow access to certain rooms, it could mean theyâ€™re hiding something.
Thanks for reading
To report any suspicious activity, call Coventry Police on 0345 113 5000 or contact your neighbourhood police team direct by visiting www.coventrypolice.org.uk
And keep up to date with all the latest Coventry Police news through their Facebook page. Go to www.facebook.com/coventrypolice and click on the â€œI Likeâ€ icon at the top of the page to receive regular updates.
South Coventry twitter http://www.twitter.com/Coventry_Police