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'£1m a year' drugs factory found

By _caesar_, Apr 5, 2007 | |
  1. _caesar_
    '£1m a year' drugs factory found

    The former Jubilee Hotel in Tylorstown
    Police seized around 1000 mature cannabis plants from the site
    A cannabis factory found at a disused hotel in Rhondda could have made up to £1m a year, say South Wales Police.

    The factory was discovered at Tylorstown after officers were tipped off by a member of the public.

    The "sophisticated" factory contained 2,300 cannabis plants and it may have been in operation for "some considerable time", officers said.

    Six men, three of Chinese origin and three from Vietnam, were arrested and are in custody at Pontypridd.

    The head of the police regional task force said around £250,000 of cannabis was being generated at the factory in part of the Jubilee Hotel every 12 weeks, making around £1m a year.

    Cannabis plants in varying states of maturity were being grown in seven rooms inside the disused hotel with the help of high intensity lighting, deep compost and an irrigation system rigged up in a bathroom.

    Cannabis being grown
    Cannabis growing under special lights inside the building

    Det Ch Insp Colin Richards, said the cannabis factory was one of around 50 found in the south Wales area in the last year.

    He said: "I believe it is the biggest single discovery of cannabis in this area".

    He said there was a "strong, pungent smell" coming from the factory, which had been "overpowering" to people who entered the building.

    Det Ch Insp Richards added it was likely one person would have lived in one of the rooms, with the sole job of looking after the cannabis plants.

    He also praised the person who tipped off officers, saying: "Without the public we wouldn't have this find.

    Estimated yield

    "We do rely on the public coming forward and being our eyes and ears on the streets."

    The plants were being removed from the site and taken to a forensic science laboratory in Chepstow, where the estimated yield of the plants would be calculated.

    Detective Inspector Nigel Cottle, from South Wales Police, said detectives were also aware of a number of cultivations in the Gwent Police area as well as Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff.

    Despite the downgrading of cannabis from a class B to a class C drug, he said: "For us primarily it is and remains an illegal drug and to that end, the cultivation and distribution of it are serious criminal offences."

    Chief Superintendent Jeff Farrar, Divisional Commander for Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taff, described it as "a significant find".

    "I am in no doubt that what has been dismantled is an organised drugs racket which intended to flood the area with the potent drug," he said.

    Anybody with further information can call South Wales Police on 01656 655555 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6523577.stm?ls

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