A Bedford cannabis factory has been dismantled, as part of a national operation that has seen eight men and two other factories dismantled in raids across Bedfordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire today (Thursday).
Officers attended six addresses in Bedford and two in Rugby and Rushden in pre-planned, intelligence-led warrants as part of a Bedfordshire Police investigation into organised cannabis production.
Eight men across all raids, aged between 22 and 55, were arrested on suspicion of offences including cannabis production, money laundering and being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
All were taken into police custody for further questioning.
Two of the Bedford locations and the Rushden address, all residential properties, were being used as cannabis factories, with dangerous wiring setups being used to power heat lamps.
People who witnessed a raid on Castle Road told the Bedford Independent, “five riot vans turned up and used battering rams to enter the property.”
Details of where the other properties raided in Bedford are located have not been released.
Detective inspector Andy Stevens, from Bedfordshire Police, said: “We know from experience that the organised production of cannabis is intrinsically linked to violence, exploitation and a host of other criminal acts.
“It’s therefore vital that we look to apprehend those involved and ensure they can’t operate in our communities.
“Growing and selling cannabis is not only illegal but can also generate funds for gangs to use in other criminal enterprises.
“This morning’s warrants represent the latest activity in our drive to disrupt drug dealing networks and stop criminals making money from the illegal drugs trade.”
Anyone with concerns about drug dealing can report to Bedfordshire Police online or by calling 101.
Alternatively, report information to Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111 or the Crimestoppers website.
Crimestoppers recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers residential and commercial properties bring to communities when being used to cultivate cannabis.
It is estimated that 94 per cent of cannabis farms are located in domestic houses.
Commenting on the campaign, a Bedfordshire Police spokesperson said: “Illegal drug activity not only has a detrimental effect on local communities, but also on vulnerable individuals within society, who may be coerced, forced or exploited into carrying out illegal activities on behalf of organised crime gangs.”
More information is available at the Crimestoppers dedicated Cannabis Campaign website pages.