Police take away £150k drugs farm at Chinese restaurant
Police have sniffed out a massive cannabis operation at a Ballymena fast food restaurant, leading to three arrests.
Officers seized plants worth £150,000 after noticing a suspicious smell while on patrol.
The drugs were found at the Water Margin, a popular Chinese eatery situated on the Cullybackey Road.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply and cultivating a class B drug.
Police said officers noticed suspicious activity while on town centre patrol and raided the premises on Thursday afternoon.
A source said: "The officers were out on patrol and knew they could smell cannabis.
"They just followed their nose to where it was coming from."
Detective Chief Inspector Bob Blemmings said he was pleased with the seizure. "This is an example of excellent on-the-ground policing which has resulted in a large quantity of drugs being taken out of circulation," he said.
"We know drugs are an issue of concern to people in Ballymena and PSNI have been working with the local community to tackle drug dealers head-on. All illegal drugs are dangerous and can have a devastating impact on individuals, families and our communities. That is why we need those communities to continue to support us in tackling drug dealing."
DUP MLA David McIlveen, who is a member of the Policing Board, said it was a significant find and brought relief that such a large quantity of drugs had been taken off the streets.
"This is a clear example of good policing and the officers who made the discovery are to be commended," he said.
"Ballymena will be a safer place having these drugs taken out of the community.
"It is a major find with the drugs having a considerable street value.
"We know the money from drugs is often channelled into other crime such as human trafficking and prostitution, so this is a very significant."
SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan urged people to report anything suspicious to police.
"It amazes me that something like this was going on in Ballymena town centre," he said.
"It shows that everyone needs to be vigilant and report anything suspicious."