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Cannabis factories dismantled following warrants in Andover

Alert message sent 02/03/2021 15:50:00

Information sent on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary

Officers seized cannabis plants with a street value of more than £250,000 when they carried out warrants in Andover.

On Friday 26 February, officers from Andover’s Neighbourhood Policing Team carried out a warrant at a house in King George Road.

They seized around 90 cannabis plants and hydroponic growing equipment.

A 21-year-old man was found inside the address was arrested on suspicion of a drug production offence. He has since been released from custody but remains under investigation.

Around 150 cannabis plants were found at two residential addresses in the town following further warrants carried out on Monday 1 March.

Officers found around 100 fully grown plants at a house in May Tree Road, and a further 50 at a house in Silver Birch Road.

A 31-year-old man from Essex was found in the house in Silver Birch Road and arrested on suspicion of a drug production offence. Following enquiries, he will face no further action in relation to this investigation but remains detained under immigration powers in accordance with published processes.

The cultivations at King George Road, May Tree Road and Silver Birch Road are being treated as linked and enquiries are ongoing.

Test Valley Inspector Chris Taylor said: “Production of cannabis on this scale is often linked to organised crime gangs and hidden harm.

“Those gangs may take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude in squalid conditions.

“Not only is there a human cost, but there is also a financial cost to the landlords due to the extensive damage caused in setting up these cannabis factories.

“Often holes have been cut in walls, structural chimney stacks have been compromised, floors and carpets have been flooded and main electricity boxes tampered with causing huge fire risks.

“That’s why we are keen to hear from people who suspect there is cannabis cultivation or drug related activity going on in their neighbourhood. Every call you make to us is logged and helps us build an intelligence picture of what might be happening in your neighbourhood.

“During lockdown, landlords may not be checking their properties as often. We would urge them to do this, and to report any suspicious activity at their properties as soon as possible so that we can take action.”

Can you spot the signs of cannabis cultivation?

1. There's a strong, sickly smell. It might sound obvious, but most cannabis grows are discovered by passers-by or keen-nosed residents catching a whiff of the drug's familiar smell.

2. High levels of condensation. Landlords might notice damp on the walls or peeling wallpaper, while from the outside a neighbour might spot condensation on the windows, even when it's not the depths of winter. The condensation may well be due to inside having been turned into a makeshift greenhouse.

3. Constantly covered or blacked out windows. Do they have the curtains drawn all day long? Or have they put black-outs over all the windows? It might make it look like the house is unoccupied, but blacked out windows could well mean inside is really, really bright with all those strong lights.

4. Cannabis growing equipment transported to and from the house. Thousands of pounds worth of equipment is often needed for large-scale grows - have you seen lots of things being delivered to the house, or large items being taken in or out?

5. Constant buzz of ventilation. If you can hear the constant noise of a fan, at all times of the day or night, chances are it could be acting as ventilation for the cannabis grow.

6. Strong, constant lighting day and night. Cannabis needs light to grow, so watch out for homes with bright lighting at all times of the day and night. Lights will often be on a timer switch, coming on in the middle of the night.

7. Lots of power cables and rocketing electricity bills. The lights, dehumidifiers and heaters take a lot of electricity. Growers will often hack into the electricity wires before the meter to that individual house, and so bypass having to pay for the electricity. If you are a landlord who gets a copy of the bill, has it dropped suddenly, or gone up suddenly? If you are a neighbour and your bill has rocketed – maybe your next door neighbour has hacked into your mains and you're paying to grow their drugs?

8. Heat, birds on the roof, and a lack of snow. Cannabis factories produce a lot of heat, which can cause tell-tales signs, especially in winter. When it snows, the roofs of cannabis farms can be obvious as the snow melts, meaning it is probably the only house on the street without a snow-covered roof. Birds also like roosting on a nice warm roof...

9. Unsociable comings and goings. Are there lots of unfamiliar faces turning up at the house at any time of the day and night? It could just be a popular family, but maybe it's something more sinister.
Message sent by
Christopher Gregory (Police, Corporate Communications Officer, Hampshire)

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