More than 6,500 cannabis plants seized as part of national operation
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We have arrested 21 people, closed down 30 cannabis grows, seized more than 6,500 plants and so far, charged seven people in a three-month-long operation targeting cannabis farms controlled or operated by Western Balkan organised crime groups.
Between March and June, we carried out warrants across the county in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Lichfield, Burton-on-Trent and Tamworth, as part of Operation Mille, a national police operation.
This activity complements our ongoing Operation Levidrome which aims to disrupt the production and supply of cannabis in our communities across the county.
Cannabis farming is often linked to sophisticated criminal networks where there are high levels of serious and complex criminality. There are significant fire safety concerns linked to cannabis farming which further highlights the disregard these criminals have in putting people at risk for criminal gain.
Cannabis farms can often be found in vacant warehouses, business premises and residential properties, particularly in terraced housing. Offenders will often buy or rent the property for the sole purpose of growing cannabis and will manually tamper with the electrics to bypass any meters.
Detective Superintendent Clair Langley said: “The three-month-long operation was a culmination of months of planning and involved over 30 officers. Support was provided by the Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency to ensure the success of this national operation.
“We have targeted Western Balkan organised crime groups in particular during this operation and our commitment to disrupting, seizing and arresting those responsible for cannabis farms will continue.
“The public and our community safety partners play an important role in providing intelligence around cannabis cultivation and we continue to appeal for information from landlords, letting agents and the wider public to report any suspicious activity.”
Signs of cannabis cultivation or farming include: • Cannabis has a strong, familiar odour which can emanate from premises • High levels of condensation on the windows of a property – even in warmer months, heavy amounts of condensation may indicate the property is acting as a greenhouse • Covered or blacked-out windows – although it may appear the property is unoccupied, blacked-out windows could be hiding lighting equipment on the inside • High number of deliveries or large items being taken in or out – cannabis cultivations are expensive; thousands of pounds worth of equipment is needed for large-scale grows • Constant buzz of ventilation – if there is a fan constantly working at all times, it could be acting as ventilation for a grow • Strong lighting which is constant day or night – cannabis needs heavy lighting to grow, so pay attention to properties with bright lighting for extended periods of time. Lights can also be on a timer switch, coming on in the middle of the night. • Lots of power cables – lights, dehumidifiers and heaters use a lot of energy, so growers will often hack electricity wires before the meter of the property to bypass electricity bills • Unsociable comings and goings – unfamiliar faces turning up at the property at all times of the day and night could signal that a grow is present.
To report suspicious activity contact Staffordshire Police by calling 101 or message us using Live Chat on our website – www.staffordshire.police.uk Alternatively you can report anonymously by calling CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.