Officers discover significant grows in cannabis clampdown
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We are continuing to target cannabis cultivation across Staffordshire following the discovery of hundreds of plants in one day in Stoke-on-Trent.
Officers went to an address in Tunstall, on Wednesday (October 11), following reports of suspicious activity in the area and found an extensive active cannabis grow inside.
More than 300 plants were seized, along with equipment including fluorescent lighting, fans and bags of fertiliser.
On the same day a team of officers raided a terraced house in the town and found a significant grow of mature plants packed into two first-floor rooms. Further plants and seedlings were discovered in the loft.
A large knife and other handmade weapons were also found hidden under furniture in the front room.
Western Power attended to disconnect the electricity supply due to fire safety concerns. Heat generated by the extra load from an illegally-bypassed meter had melted the unit.
Both scenes have been secured and forensic investigators and detectives continue to investigate as we look to find those responsible.
The activity comes as we proactively target those involved in cannabis cultivation as part of our Operation Levidrome commitment, which sees officers targeting supply and cultivation of cannabis across Staffordshire.
Sergeant Chris Gifford, from Stoke North local policing team, said: “The wider impact from a cannabis grow is huge and that is what we aim to stop.
“These grows are often linked to organised crime and fund serious criminality, including modern slavery, human trafficking, county lines activity and the supply of class A drugs and firearms.
“Those involved are likely to be part of an organised crime gang or network and give no second thought to exploiting vulnerable people to tend to or cultivate grows; often forcing them to live alongside crops in deplorable conditions. Think of the smell from someone smoking cannabis, now imagine 300 plants in an enclosed space.
"There are also significant fire safety concerns linked to grows as criminals crudely bypass electricity meters, which further highlights their utter disregard for putting others at risk for their own financial gain.
“Those who cultivate cannabis are also exposed to corrosive chemicals used for plant growth in industrial quantities. These chemicals burn the eyes, skin and the inner lining of the nose, throat, and lungs.
“Cannabis is not a victimless crime. We want to make it crystal clear that it is not welcome here in Staffordshire.”
Our communities play a vital role in providing intelligence around cannabis grows and we continue to appeal for information from landlords, letting agents and the wider public to report any suspicious activity.
Cannabis farms can often be found in empty warehouses or business premises, however, we are responding to more reports of large-scale grows in residential properties, particularly in terraced housing.
Offenders will often buy or rent the property for the sole purpose of growing the drug and will tamper with the electrics to bypass any meters. The CO2 used to help grow the plants is also highly flammable and fires are common.
PC Lucy Young, who led Wednesday’s raids, said: “These criminals are hiding in plain sight. If you see or hear something that just doesn’t sit right, contact us.”
Tell-tale signs of cannabis cultivation:
High levels of condensation on the windows of a property – even in warmer months, this 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 inside
High number of deliveries or large items being taken in or out – thousands of pounds worth of equipment is needed for large-scale grows
Constant buzz of ventilation – if there is a fan working at all times, it could be acting as ventilation for a grow