Firstly, cannabis factories are a source of income for gangs who then use it to fund more serious forms of crime. Additionally this kind of criminality is often connected to gang violence including knife and gun crime, hard drugs like crack cocaine and heroin, and modern day slavery including sexual exploitation.
The gang members do not tend to the factories themselves and often use vulnerable people or slaves to do the work for them and collect all the profits. People staying at the properties live in appalling conditions very often for little or no pay, when the criminals behind the operation can yield massive profits with each crop of the drug.
If a property is transformed into a cannabis factory it becomes a target for rival gangs and brings anti-social behaviour and violent crime into the neighbourhood.
Criminals may take extra measures to protect the source of their profit. The house may be excessively protected by reinforced doors, bars in the windows and dangerous dogs or even booby traps.
Cannabis factories are a danger to any building in the vicinity. To avoid detection offenders reconnect to the power grid. This is done by people with no formal training or knowledge, and exposed wires reconnected by an amateur is a recipe for a potentially tragic fire.
We would like to encourage our residents to report any suspicious activity, or get in touch if they believe a house in their neighbourhood is used for illicit purposes.
The things to keep an eye out for are:
- Blacked out windows, often disguised by net curtains or blinds
- Excessive condensation on the windows caused by increased humidity
- Permanently locked windows, even in summer
- An excessive amount of plant pots, chemicals, fertilisers and compost
- Chemical or pungent smells
We would also encourage the landlords to familiarise themselves with how to spot the signs that your property is used by criminals. The setting up of a cannabis factory causes thousands, sometimes even tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage to a house and can cause the property to be structurally unsound in the process.
Detective Inspector Mark Pugh
Serious and Complex Investigation Team