More than £7m of plants seized in county-wide cannabis crackdown
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A county-wide operation to tackle the illegal production of cannabis across Leicestershire has resulted in plants with a street value of more than £7m being seized.
Leicestershire Police joined other forces across the UK taking part in Operation Mille – a national campaign to locate cannabis grows and arrest those behind them.
Throughout June, 47 searches took place across the county, including West Leicester, the city centre, Leicester Forest East, Birstall and Syston. This included 35 warrants which were executed under Section 8 or Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
In total, more than 9,200 plants – with an estimated yield of over half a tonne – were seized. The largest grow, which consisted of 1,248, was located in East Leicester.
Equipment used in the cultivation of cannabis, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, was seized by officers
More than £21,000 in cash was also seized
Forty people were arrested on suspicion of in connection with the cultivation of cannabis
Twenty-nine people have subsequently been charged
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Arthur, the senior investigating officer, said: “The production of cannabis – which is a category B and illegal drug – is an issue across the country. Here in Leicestershire, we joined colleagues and partners from across the UK by taking part in Operation Mille in order to identify and disrupt those responsible.
“Those behind the grows often have little regard for the safety and welfare of others.”
“It’s important to remember that the illegal production of cannabis – which often involves vast amounts of electrical equipment like lighting and heating – poses a serious risk to the public. Criminals don’t want to be detected and so more often than not, this equipment is connected in a way that poses a serious fire hazard.
One of the grows located by officers in Leicester Forest East
“There is also another human side to this offending, with the creation and maintenance of large scale grows often linked with exploitation and forced labour.
“I’m absolutely delighted that our month of enforcement, which saw teams from across the force area working together utilising community intelligence, resulted in more than 9,200 plants being recovered by officers.
“But, as well as stopping the plants from making it to our streets, we’ve also identified those behind the grows and charged 29 people, as well as referring 10 people into the national referral mechanism which can support people who are victims of slavery.”
In total, more than 9,200 plants were seized during the month-long operation
Following the enforcement, local officers will be carrying out further work to raise awareness of further dangers that the cultivation of cannabis can pose.
“We’re going to continue working with partner agencies to educate, inform and reassure the public,” said PC John Merola, from the West Leicester Neighbourhood Policing Area (NPA).
“We want to ensure that local authorities and landlords know how to identify fraudulent identification documents, which are often used by tenants so they can use a property solely for growing cannabis.
“Our beat also has a large number of terraced properties. Since 2021, we’ve been called to six fires by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service because they’ve identified the cause as being from equipment inside that was used to grow cannabis.
“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be holding a number of patch walks with partner agencies in order to raise awareness of the issue and advise how we can work together to continue preventing criminals from operating in our area.
“We also want to educate the public on how to spot the signs of cannabis production and what to do if you think cannabis is being grown in your area. We are holding a session at the Baptist Church in Buckminster Road between 1pm and 3pm on Wednesday 12 July. If you would like to attend, or have any questions, you can email me - [email protected]”