THE NUMBER of cannabis factories being started in Coventry is increasing with police shutting down eight in the past three months in just one area of the city, seizing plants worth in excess of £4million.
On Tuesday this week, thanks to information from the public, around 600 to 700 plants were discovered by police at a property on Gulson Road.
A 22-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is helping officers with their enquiries.
Another grow in a disused Coventry nightclub in Trinity Street – where there were £1million worth of plants – was shut down by the National Crime Agency, working with West Midlands Police, last month.
PC Tony Coy from Coventry Police said: “You often hear people say ‘what’s the problem, it’s only a bit of weed’ but all too often drugs factories like these, especially the larger scale ones, are likely linked to wider organised crime.
“We often find they are also linked to modern slavery with gardeners exploited to tend crops being brought into the country illegally.
“Criminals running cannabis factories tend to tamper with electricity supplies and bypass the mains connection to steal the power they need for lighting and heating.
“I’ve seen some really hazardous wiring jobs and they are a disaster waiting to happen.”
Some circuits have been measured as handling in excess of five times the recommended safe levels of current making them hot to touch which poses a fire risk and the potential to cause severe damage to neighbouring properties.
Police say there are many tell-tale signs to recognise a cannabis farm, most notably the distinctive sweet, leafy smell of the crop itself.
Other indicators that a property may have been converted into a drugs farm include curtains always being drawn, a low humming noise coming from the air extraction system, people coming and going at all times of day and night and of course people taking in large quantities of fertiliser and other paraphernalia needed to grow the drugs.
PC Coy appealed to people to look out for the signs and submit details of buildings they think could be being used as cannabis factories.
“The public are our eyes and ears on the ground and play a crucial role in helping us find cannabis factories and tackling the associated organised crime.
“We always act on information from the public.”
Anyone wanting to report their suspicions a building is being used to grow cannabis can call police on 101 or send a message at west-midlands.police.uk – using the live chat service.