It’s often referred to as a leafy suburb, but the residents of Rosemary Park off Belfast’s Malone Road were left shocked by the discovery of a cannabis farm in the plush neighbourhood on Thursday.
Hundreds of young and mature plants, growing equipment and heat lamps were found by police and removed by the skipful from the detatched villa.
Officers in forensic suits spent all day yesterday clearing and examining the house for evidence.
The raid has exposed how drugs barons are becoming ever more brazen in targeting locations for their cannabis farms.
Once the preserve of city or town centre dwellings or student-populated areas, police have also recently discovered large-scale growing operations in rural locations and farmhouses in Co Antrim and now in the des res capital of Belfast’s Malone Road.
Alliance Party councillor Tom Ekin, who lives in an adjacent street, expressed shock at the find.
“To think of a cannabis factory around the corner is intriguing, especially in a traditionally quiet and respectable area like this. It is a bit of a shock,” he said.
“It just goes to show you how widespread this problem of drugs is.
“If indeed this police search came about as the result of someone reporting suspicious activity, then that is to be commended.
“Rosemary Park is an area where a lot of older people and families with children live who would not want something like this in their midst.
“If a watchful neighbour raised concerns about this, then next time they could be raising concerns about an elderly person or a child in peril — that is a real community.
Police said the search of the “cannabis factory” was planned.
“Almost 400 cannabis plants were seized along with a significant amount of associated equipment and other paraphernalia,” she added.
No arrests were made.