1,500 drug plants seized in police raids

MORE than 1,500 cannabis plants have been seized by police in Forest Heath during the past 14 months.

Laurence Cawley

MORE than 1,500 cannabis plants have been seized by police in Forest Heath during the past 14 months.

Police today called on landlords in the district to be vigilant and check their properties regularly

Since January last year police have found cannabis growing at seventeen houses in Forest Heath, with quantities ranging from one or two plants to over 400. In the case of the larger “factories”, electricity meters were bypassed to set up rooms full of plants with lighting and heating equipment.

Police say the fire risk to neighbouring properties is increased when cannabis is grown nearby because of the heat generated by plant growing equipment.

Det Insp Andy Smith said: “Across Suffolk, and in Forest Heath particularly, we are seeing an increase in the number of cannabis factories uncovered. Many of the factories are detected after members of the local community raise suspicions, or when landlords call at the property.

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“We are appealing for everyone's help in cracking down on this illegal practice.

“For those premises where we find a small number of plants we are often able to deal with the offender by means of a caution. But the larger factories are often run by “gardeners” who live at the property solely to look after the plants, and the proceeds go on to organised gangs.

“Landlords can play a big part in curbing this organised crime by making thorough checks before accepting a tenant, and then keeping up regular checks of their properties once rented out. If you are offered more than the rental price for the property, then it probably is too good to be true.

“When drug criminals operate out of rental properties, the local neighbourhood suffers, and property managers and landlords often pay a high price. The reputation of the landlord or property manager can be affected, other property owners may be reluctant to place their properties with the rental company, and a huge amount of damage is caused to the property often costing thousands of pounds to repair.

“I would appeal for anyone who suspects a cannabis factory has been set up in their community or if you are a landlord and think there may be a factory in one of your properties, to get in touch with us immediately.”

If you suspect that a premises is a cannabis factory, please contact police on 01473 613500.