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£500,000 of cannabis seized in police raid

By Catherine Lynagh

Cannabis with an estimated street value of £500,000 has been uncovered by police in a suspected three-bedroom plant-making factory in Co Down.

Up to 1,000 plants and dozens of bags containing harvested cannabis were recovered from the detached house in Newtownards Road, Bangor, by the PSNI’s organised crime branch yesterday.

Police said there was no ventilation in the house and that cannabis plants filled every room of the property.

The house had a considerable amount of heating and lighting equipment which is known to be used in hydroponics, a method adopted by organised crime gangs to grow large amounts of cannabis plants.

Detectives uncovered the factory following an intelligence-led operation in Co Down.

Detective Inspector Douglas Grant said cannabis factories, like the one shut down yesterday, pose a serious health risk to the public.

He said: “We have taken a huge amount of drugs out of circulation and believe today’s actions may have saved lives and prevented substantial damage to property.

“The equipment these criminals were using was installed in a dangerous manner, which exposed the property, adjoining properties and members of the local community to the danger of fire.”

And he added: “It is important for members of the community to report any suspicious activity to police. If a house or any other type of dwelling near you has blackened windows or is giving off a pungent smell, or there are people coming and going from the property at strange times of the day, there could be cannabis growing inside.”

Mr Grant also appealed for landlords to use due diligence.

He said: “It is also important that private landlords carry out thorough checks on their tenants, as organised crime gangs use rental properties for cannabis factories. The PSNI has shut down a considerable number of these and many were owned by private landlords who did not realise their property was being used for crime.

“Landlords who need advice on what to look for if they suspect their property is being used as a cannabis factory can visit the PSNI website on www.psni.police.uk or call their local crime prevention officer.”

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