Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2006
Source: Cambridge Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2006 Cambridge Newspapers Ltd


Cannabis Factories Are Being Targeted In A Major Crackdown On 
Organised Crime In Cambridgeshire.

Detectives from the force's Serious and Organised Crime Squad are 
launching a two-week blitz against cannabis producers in the county, 
which will coincide with similar operations by other forces across the country.

Det Chief Insp Paul Fullwood, who is leading the crackdown, said the 
push would consolidate the work already done to battle drug 
production in Cambridgeshire.

Operation Holywell, which has been up and running for two months, has 
already seen 14 raids, 10 people arrested, and 170kg of cannabis 
resin with a street value of UKP435,000 seized in the county.

He said: "We are ahead of the game in Cambridgeshire because we have 
been targeting organised crime groups involved in this sort of 
activity for some time.

"We are talking about large-scale cannabis factories, often on quiet 
residential streets in the suburbs of cities including Cambridge 
which are being rented out and the entire properties used for the 
production of cannabis.

"These people use extremely sophisticated heat and lighting equipment 
and often drill into the mains electricity to power it, which is very 
dangerous in terms of a fire risk.

"They then bring in low-level people to look after the crop, but we 
know there are vast profits being made by the organised gangs.

"A typical factory might have 200 plants which are harvested four 
times a year, with every harvest bringing in around UKP30,000 - so 
the criminal profits generated from one house alone are around 
UKP120,000 a year.

"We also know these gangs are involved in other crime, such as people 
trafficking, money laundering, even murder and other violent crime, 
so it is very important they are not allowed to get away with it.

"Our message is we're not targeting people who use cannabis, but we 
are targeting those at the top and we will not tolerate what these 
gangs are doing."

Det Chief Insp Fullwood also warned cannabis users about the potency 
of the drugs.

He said: "The cannabis has extremely high levels of THC, which is the 
hallucinogenic content, sometimes as much as six times what has 
traditionally been found in cannabis. This stuff is not good for you."
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