17:04 PM, 5th March 2012, About 12 years ago 6
Police are on a high after closing 5,000 cannabis factories across the North West in the past three years – and are urging landlords and letting agents to step into the war on drugs.
Police are shutting down an average four cannabis farms a day – with many located in rented homes and commercial properties.
The haul includes around 345,000 plants with an estimated street value of £140 million.
Detectives want landlords and agents to regularly check let properties for criminal activity – and to report their suspicions to a special unit codenamed Operation Broadley across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire, North Wales and Cumbria.
Det Supt John Lyons said: “Cannabis is not the harmless drug it is often perceived to be and is the most-used illegal drug in the UK.
“An increasing number of people who grow cannabis are directly funding dangerous, organised criminal gangs. These gangs are often responsible for gun crime, violence and intimidation across the North West.
“We appeal to anyone with any information about cannabis cultivation in their area to make contact during this month of action and beyond.”
Lyons claims stricter border patrols have led to dealers growing cannabis in the UK rather than importing the drug. Police forces across the North West report a massive increase in cannabis growing offences over the past year or so.
The figures were up 16% in Manchester, while more than 1,200 people were arrested during the past three years for growing cannabis in Liverpool and 485 cannabis factories were uncovered in Lancashire last year.
A 22-strong drugs gang farming cannabis in North Wales were jailed for more than 100 years between them at Caernafon Crown Court.
The court heard a police operation involving 17 undercover officers led seizing £400,000 worth of drugs and £50,000 in cash.