VIDEO: Plymouth cannabis farm worth more than £100k 'sniffed out' by policeman
A police officer uncovered a major cannabis factory in the heart of the city after smelling ling the plants while answering a 999 call to another property.
The chance find came about after officers were called to a suspected break in shortly after midnight yesterday near to a light-industrial property at the junction of Crantock Terrace and Melville Terrace Lane in Ford.
A vigilant officer noticed what he suspected to be cannabis and passed on the information to investigators who later confirmed the odour.
Det Con Paul Entiknap, of the Devonport police team obtained a Misuse of Drugs Act warrant from magistrates in the early hours and then forced entry at 10.30am yesterday.
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Police say a highly sophisticated cannabis-growing set-up spread over two floors was discovered inside.
The ground-floor comprised of a large space separated by a partition wall behind which sat three large ‘tents’ which contained a mixture of young and mature cannabis plants.
The upstairs floor was given over to a further six large black ‘tents’, with reflective silver lining, each full to capacity with mature plants, some as tall as 5ft.
The upstairs set-up used a complex and fully automated air-conditioning, lighting, ventilation and watering system which connected with the tents.
Det Con Entiknap said: “You would think that with all the plants inside the smell would have been obvious, but the ventilation was so good there was very little odour outside.”
Plymouth police’s Drug Liaison Officer, Det Con Stuart Payne was called in to assess the cannabis factory.
He described it as “a professional cannabis production set up” producing “high quality skunk cannabis on a commercial scale”.
He said an initial study suggested around 250 mature plants which would have an estimated street value of around £125,000.
Det Con Payne said: “You can have three or even four harvests a year with this kind of set-up, so there would have been the potential to produce nearly half a million pounds worth of cannabis per year.
“There has been a large outlay in terms of rent of the property, electricity, the tents and lights, air conditioning, timers, piping, automated watering systems. In total the outlay could come to more than £10,000.
“This is totally different than someone growing cannabis for their own personal use.
“It’s one of the most professional set-ups I’ve seen.”
Acting on information gathered at the scene, officers carried out a search of a property in the Weston Mill area of the city and discovered a further 15 cannabis plants.
One neighbour said she was “very surprised” to learn there was a cannabis factory at the end of her road.
She said: “I’ve been here 12 years. The building used to belong to scaffolders, but it was considered unsafe and demolished. It was then rebuilt but was left empty for a while.
“Only in the last three or four months did someone move in. I saw someone in there the other day, with the shutter open. You could see a ladder and DIY stuff, but I didn’t think anything of it.”
Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting police log number 11 of 24/5/12
A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the cultivation of cannabis.