Pubdate: Sun, 21 Oct 2007
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Newsquest Media Group
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


A controvesial "cannabis cafe" has reopened just days  after police 
used a tractor to smash their way in.

During the dramatic raid the side of the building  collapsed while 
people were still inside.

Now the owner of the cafe, which police believe is  being used to 
sell cannabis, has tried to turn it into  an impregnable fortress.

He has stacked car tyres filled with concrete around  the building in 
Freshbrook Road, Lancing, and installed  razor wire to deter intruders.

A spokesman for the owner, who did not want to be  identified, said: 
"We were back up and running within  days of the police raid."

One of those inside at the time said: "It was like  something out of 
a Bruce Willis film. Somebody could  have very easily been very badly 
hurt of even killed."

Another said: "It could have easily collapsed  completely with 
everyone inside it. As it was people  did get minor injuries, bumps 
and bruises, and one  woman suffered an asthma attack."

But police were unapologetic about the estimated UKP20,000 worth of 
damage caused to the building when the tractor pulled away a window 
so officers could gain entry.

And they vowed to step up the pressure in a bid to close the cafe 
once and for all.

Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs, Adur district police commander, said 
the building's previous defences forced his officers to use the tractor.

He said: "We have held meetings with the local residents and they 
clearly want us to close this place down.

"With the fortifications that have been made, at great expense, our 
options were diminishing. That meant we had to take the relatively 
drastic action of employing a tractor during the last raid.

"We considered the health and safety implications very carefully and 
were confident nobody would be hurt, and nobody was.

"We are not deterred by the owners' latest comments or their 
refortifications. We will continue to execute warrants as and when we 
feel it is necessary.

"There has to be a recognition that these types of illegal 
enterprises will not be tolerated.

"This is not about recreational drug use on a minor scale. We are not 
talking about an individual having a quiet joint in their own home.

"We are talking about 30 or 40 people in one place, many of them from 
out of town. We are also tackling the people who are profiting ffrom 
thousands of pounds a week from the proceeds of crime."
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