Police have raided dozens of cannabis factories in Leicestershire and stopped drugs with an estimated street value of £3.5 million reaching the market.
The 5,000-plus plants were seized at 32 locations, typically houses and business premises, across the city and county in the past three months, Leicestershire Police said.
Many of the raids were the result of tip-offs from members of the public, according to the force.
As well as the links to organised crime, cannabis houses are notorious fire hazards because the gangs that set them up often tamper with electrics to bypass the mains supply.
The Leicestershire force released details of its recent operations and urged members of the public to keep the tip-offs coming.
Meanwhile, over the border in Nottinghamshire last week, police said they had been able to hit cannabis growers hard because the coronavirus crisis had freed officers from time-consuming duties such as policing pubs and clubs.
It also said there has been an increase in ‘intelligence reports’ about suspicious activity around drug houses from people living nearby who have been forced to stay at home because of the pandemic.
LeicestershireLive asked Leicestershire Police whether this analysis applied here.
In a statement, it said: “Between April 1 and June 24, officers attended 32 incidents where cannabis was being grown on a large scale.
“The discoveries were made following information received and attending other incidents where plants were subsequently found.
“Around 5,000 plants have been recovered, with an estimated street value of £3.5m.”
One of the most significant operations took place last week when officers raided a property in Bardon Hill, near Coalville, and found approximately 900 plants.
At the other end of the scale officers seized approximately 40 plants after residents raised the alarm about suspicious activity at a house in London Road, Oadby last week.
Detective Inspector Deb Hubbard, of Leicestershire Police, said: “Tackling the production and distribution of drugs such as cannabis remains one of our priorities.
“In recent months, we’ve recovered thousands of plants with a street value of more than £3m.
“This has been achieved through partnership working within the force and also information passed on to us by our communities.
“Information passed on to us from the public is crucial to us tackling issues around cannabis production and we continue to encourage anyone who has information that can help us to get in touch.”
Previously, police in the city have urged private landlords to keep a closer eye on their properties and to report any concerns to police.
Police say signs of a building being used for cannabis cultivation include:
- Excessive fortification
- Silver duct tape hanging out of windows
- Blacked-out windows
- Condensation on windows
- Peeling wallpaper or mildewed walls
- A pungent smell
- Sudden fluctuations in electricity bills
- Electrical wiring having been tampered with