Officers from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YHROCU) assisted by the region’s four police forces have seized over £5.3 million of cannabis after executing 138 warrants
A total of 127 people were arrested for offences linked to the drugs trade as part of the operation targeted at Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) operating throughout Yorkshire and Humberside.
Throughout June, YHROCU, together with Humberside, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police located and searched 138 cannabis grows aimed at unearthing and disrupting the OCGs and their illegal revenue streams.
Over 19,500 cannabis plants and a further 26 kilos of cropped cannabis were seized, as well as cash, weapons and other drugs as part of Operation Mille, a nationally-coordinated campaign.
Detective Superintendent Fiona Gaffney, Deputy Head of the YHROCU, led the response in Yorkshire and the Humber. She said:
“We targeted these criminal networks who were involved in drug dealing, immigration crime and money laundering as part of a coordinated approach to disrupting their activities and bringing them to justice.
“Working with police in all four Yorkshire and Humber forces, as well as our partner agencies, we were able to tackle the large-scale cultivation of cannabis which is a key source of illicit income for organised gangs.
“There’s a clear link between serious crime and those involved in cannabis cultivation. The drugs trade fuels gang violence as groups compete for territory. They hunt out the opposition and cause misery in our communities.”
The intensification period was designed to disrupt OCGs by taking out a key source of their revenue, while simultaneously apprehending many of those involved, safeguarding those being exploited, and increasing intelligence around how the networks operate.
Results from Operation Mille in Yorkshire and the Humber included:
- 138 search warrants executed at properties across Yorkshire and Humberside
- 19,534 plants and 26.35kg seized, worth an estimated £5,351,090
- 127 arrested
- 90 mobile telephones and two laptops seized, plus others forms of electronic devices including CCTV systems, USBs and hard disk drives as well as significant quantities cash recovered.
- Numerous Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) enquiries are ongoing.
All 43 police forces across England and Wales, working with Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) and partner agencies, dedicated resources to target the criminal networks involved in cannabis production and other serious criminality.
Steve Jupp, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Serious and Organised Crime, said: “We know that organised networks involved in cannabis production are also directly linked to an array of other serious criminality such as class A drug importation, modern slavery and wider violence and exploitation.
“This operation not only successfully disrupted a significant amount of criminal activity, but the intelligence gathered will also help inform future law enforcement across the country.
“Cannabis-related crime is often thought to be ‘low level’, however there are clear patterns around the exploitation and violence OCGs are using to protect their enterprises. We also frequently find that cannabis production is just one aspect of their criminal operations and that they are complicit in wider offending which blights our communities.
“Working with law enforcement colleagues in the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement, the ROCU network, and a host of other partner organisations, we’ve not only been able to disrupt the criminal operations of a significant number of organised crime groups, but also increased our understanding of their other criminal activities.”
Cannabis factories also present a very real local threat
The size of criminal cannabis ‘factories’ means that damage is often caused to the properties themselves; the buildings can become dangerous as a result of fire risks, unlawful abstraction of electricity, fumes and water damage.
Anyone with information about a potential cannabis factory or drug dealing can contact their local force online or via 101.
There are some key signs to spot a property could be being used as a cannabis factory:
- Frequent visitors to a property at unsocial hours throughout the day and night.
- Blacked out windows or condensation on the windows, even when it is not cold outside.
- Bright lights in rooms throughout the night.
- Electricity meters being tampered with/altered and new cabling, sometimes leading to street lighting. High electricity bills could also be an indicator.
- A powerful, distinctive, sweet, sickly aroma and noise from fans.
- Lots of work or deliveries of equipment to an address, particularly those associated with growing plants indoors without soil such as heaters and lighting.
- An excessive amount of plant pots, chemicals, fertilisers, and compost.