Cannabis worth nearly £90m seized in fight against drug gangs

Our specialist cannabis factory clearance team seized drugs totalling almost £90-million last year as we keep up the pressure on drugs dens run by crime groups.

Figures from the Cannabis Disposal Team (CDT) shows they closed down 398 large farms in 2020 and seized plants and harvested leaves with a street value of £86,697,000.

The CDT is only called to clear large factories − ones suspected of being run by organised crime gangs − where expansive hydroponics set-ups need dismantling and electricity supply has been bypassed to power heat lamps and ventilation.

Smaller cannabis grows fall outside their remit and would be dealt with by neighbourhood police teams − so the full scale of the seizures in the West Midlands last year would be considerably more.

Watch as officers raid the biggest cannabis factory of 2020

CDT Manager Mike Hall said: “Most of the cannabis farms we deal with are being used to fund organised crime gangs. 

“We often find weapons, machetes and sometimes guns, and people found at the properties are often trafficked here illegally and are being exploited.

“Our team are specially trained to clear these drugs factories as they can be very hazardous environments. Offenders tend to steal electricity by tampering with the mains supply and the dodgy wiring is a real fire risk. Several have gone up in flames.

“Anyone who claims ‘it’s just a bit of weed, haven’t police got better things to do’ is being very naïve. These are criminal enterprises run by serious crime groups."

The biggest cannabis farm cleared by the CDT was found in a storage unit in Foleshill Road, Coventry, on 20 July when drugs valued at £3.6-million was recovered.

A £2.6-million haul was recovered from the historic Haliburton House in Hall Street South, West Bromwich a week earlier, while £1,996,000 worth of cannabis was seized from a property in Icknield Street, Soho, last March.

Many of the team’s successes are prompted by information passed to us by concerned members of the public − and Mike urged anyone with suspicions about a property to get in touch.

He added: “There are lots of tell-tale signs that a property is being used to grow cannabis, not least the sweet, leafy odour of the drug itself.

“Others would be a constant low humming noise from ventilation, windows blacked out or curtains drawn all day, large ducting tubes coming from the property, powerful lights on at night, and people visiting regularly for just a short period.

“We always take information from the public seriously and will act on it where appropriate to take crime and protect the public."

Information can be passed to us via Live Chat on the website or by calling us on 101. Alternatively call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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