Revealed: 400 drugs factories raided in cannabis crackdown
Police have raided more than 400 cannabis factories in Staffordshire over the past three years.
One factory, found at a Wheaton Aston chicken barn, was dubbed one of the country’s “largest and most sophisticated” set-ups and valued at £1.5million.
A total of 468 factories have been seized across the county between 2016 and 2019; with 165 raided in 2016/17, 187 in 2017/18 and 116 in 2018/19.
The findings were revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the Express & Star.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "Whilst we have seen a reduction in the number of ‘cannabis factories’, Staffordshire Police continues to take the cultivation and supply of illegal drugs seriously recognising the impact that this has on our communities.
"We ask all of our communities to remain vigilant to those who are involved in the supply of drugs and inform either your local police team or via Crimestoppers."
Staffordshire Police said the largest cannabis factory discovered was one at a location in Wheaton Aston, west of Penkridge, South Staffordshire.
Around 3,100 plants were seized by officers during a raid in December 2017 at Three Angels Farm on Ivetsey Road.
WATCH: Look inside barn where £1.5m of cannabis was found
Inspector Richard Meaden said at the time: “This is the largest and most sophisticated cannabis factory I’ve ever experienced and I am delighted we have been able to take such a large number of drugs off the streets.”
A total of six men were arrested after the raid – three at the scene and another after officers searched the surrounding area.
The police operation was aided by the National Police Air Service.
The men, who were aged between 17 and 44, were from Britain and Albania, and were taken in custody for questioning.
Photographs from the scene showed thousands of cannabis plants growing in black pots under artificial lights, inside an industrial building.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said at the time: “The sheer scale of the operation was huge.”
Following the latest figures, the spokesman said: "Those involved in the cultivation could potentially be exploited and our teams work closely with partners and the community to gather intelligence to help the force prevent the supply of drugs and its associated vulnerabilities.
"If you are found guilty of attempting to establish or having managed a facility to cultivate a Class B drug like cannabis, you could face a custodial sentence and could face a Proceeds of Crime hearing meaning the gains of drug supply will be seized meaning crime doesn’t pay."
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