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Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or charged

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  1. KomodoMK
    Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or charged



    FROM outside, the tenement in Cecil Street looked like any other in Glasgow.
    But when police officers took a few steps into this three-storey building in the affluent west end, they were greeted with a sight unimaginable to anyone standing outside its sandstone façade.

    Hundreds of cannabis plants covered almost every available inch of floorspace. Welcome to Scotland's biggest domestic cannabis factory.

    This week, a Chinese man, He Chang, 40, was jailed for four years for his involvement in running the biggest cannabis factory yet found in a domestic property in Scotland.

    The 1,900 cannabis plants discovered in June by police, who were acting on a tip-off, were capable of producing enough joints to keep 22,800 cannabis smokers high for a week.

    In each room, a complex array of equipment provided the heat and light to force-grow the plants, which had been carefully tended by a squad of gardeners to maximise their yield.

    It is likely that the owner of the property had little or no idea of the sophisticated criminal enterprise being run within its walls.

    But yesterday, police officers said owners will have to take responsibility for cannabis factories operating in their properties, and suggested financial penalties and even criminal charges should be levelled against negligent landlords.

    The move, announced yesterday at the first cannabis production summit in Scotland, represents the opening of a new front in the police fight against mass cannabis production in Scotland involving south-east Asian gangs, which has, for the first time, turned the country into a major illegal drug-producing nation.

    Cannabis worth £25 million has been found in the past two years – much of it now thought to have been destined for export to mainland Europe.

    Strathclyde Police, who are leading a national campaign against cannabis production, hosted the summit, which included representatives from property letting companies and stores that supply gardening equipment.

    Det Superintendent Alan Buchanan, who is operationally in charge of the campaign, said it was time to shift the focus for tackling the problem on to landlords. He said: "If people can't give a hoot about how their property is used, they might find themselves facing sanctions, criminal and civil, at a later time."

    He suggested a range of measures, including making landlords liable for the estimated £20,000 worth of electricity that cannabis farms steal from power companies every year. He also called for landlords to be forced to inspect properties every two months, either via clauses in insurance contracts or through new legislation. He said: "Most letting agents will have inspection regimes, but not all."

    Mr Buchanan added: "We will be saying to the Inland Revenue, 'You need to start looking at these people. If they are going to avoid declaring their rent, what else are they avoiding?'" Mr Buchanan admitted police on their own were powerless to stop cannabis cultivation and needed more tip-offs from the public, landlords and others if something appears suspicious.

    "If we cannot arrest them, we need to make Scotland so hostile that the gangs will take their businesses elsewhere," he said.

    • Twelve people were arrested yesterday after detectives raided 16 homes in Inverness and the surrounding area. Quantities of heroin and cannabis were seized in the series of swoops.

    The raids, codenamed "Operation Reason", followed a series of drug overdose deaths in the Inverness area over the past four months.

    Twelve held after raids

    TWELVE people were arrested yesterday in the Inverness area after detectives raided 16 homes in a major drugs operation.

    Quantities of heroin and cannabis were seized in the series of swoops across the city and in smaller places.

    The raids, codenamed "Operation Reason", followed a series of drug overdose deaths in the Inverness area over the past four months.

    A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said:

    "Police raided 16 addresses in the early hours of this morning, in the Inverness area, across the city and extending as far as Ardersier and Foyers.

    "We have recovered a dealing quantity of various drugs, including heroin, cannabis and dihydrocodeine."

    Divisional Commander Superintendent Andy Cowie explained: "This was the culmination of a large scale operation involving 40 police officers, dog handlers and financial investigators."

    'This is illegal drug production on an industrial scale'

    FOUR cannabis factories have been discovered this week in the Strathclyde region, bringing the total raided by police since autumn 2006 to 166.

    Some 80,500 plants have been recovered, capable of producing cannabis with a street value of £25 million. Campbell Corrigan, the acting assistant chief constable of Strathclyde Police, said: "This has hit us square in the face. This isn't about growing for personal use; this is illegal drug production on an industrial scale."

    Violent turf wars are becoming more common. At least one running battle, involving south-east Asians with swords and machetes, has taken place in the city centre, while in another incident a gang member was abducted and tortured by a rival gang. One senior officer said: "The difference between these criminals and others is there is no warning. We are starting to see shocking violence almost out of the blue."

    The violence has affected only the criminal groups so far, but police fear innocent bystanders may get caught in the crossfire.

    Source: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Police-warn-landlords-Smoke-out.4790376.jp

    # Michael Howie
    # The Scotsman
    # December 13, 2008

Comments

  1. Horiz
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    "The raids, codenamed "Operation Reason", followed a series of drug overdose deaths in the Inverness area over the past four months."

    Irony.

    Anyway, this will probably hinder SWIM's ability to buy.

    Also, I've never seen any kind of asian gang in any Scottish city.
  2. RaverHippie
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    Sounds like an extension of the crack house law as its known in the states.
  3. Potter
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    that would have been a SWEET week!
  4. humdroid
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    Thats some big grow-tardis.
  5. Sven99
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    Enough for 22,800 users to be high for a week?

    So in other words, a tiny proportion of the UK's cannabis consumption, and as usual the majority of producers are getting away with it.

    SWIM is a tad confused that the article says its being grown for export. Why would it be exported when there's such a strong market for it in the UK? Is the continent paying ridiculous prices for 'high strength British super skunk' or whatever they're calling it nowadays?

    Edited to add: And the Police simply can't pass the buck for this onto landlords and letting agencies - people in rented accommodation have the right to privacy too. If the Police don't have the powers to search a property they certainly shouldn't be having landlords do their dirty work for them.

    And even if they did, SWIM imagines that the commercial scale growers will avoid the problem by simply finding unscrupulous or lazy landlords (no shortage of them around) or buying houses and flats instead of renting - if they're growing commercially they could afford to do it and it just becomes an easy enough way to launder their profits.

    Drug production will never be stopped, as the huge profits available mean there will always be people willing to take the risk. All the draconian enforcement does is weed out the not so smart producers while encouraging the remaining ones to get smarter and do their jobs better. Its survival of the fittest.
  6. Pondlife
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    It says
    I think that means "we don't know where it's all going, but we guess it's being exported because it seems too much for local consumption". An alternative explanation might be that there is much more cannabis being consumed in the UK than they think.

    This comes from the detective superintendent saying what he thinks should happen. Thankfully the police don't make the law though.

    There are already penalties for landlords being involved or turning a blind eye, it's called being "concerned in the supply". To gain a conviction the prosecution need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the landlord knew what was going on. Saying "he should have known" is not enough.

    Exactly. There are plenty of absentee landlords, and quite a few who are willing to turn a blind eye. Rumour has it that commercial cannabis growers are good tenants who always pay their rent on time and don't pester the landlord with minor niggles.
  7. Sven99
    Re: Police warn landlords: Smoke out cannabis factories or you could be fined or char

    Thanks for the clarification. SWIM sees your point. He supposes the authorities don't have much way of knowing for certain where people intend to sell cannabis once they've grown it.

    SWIM agrees that its likely pot growers would make good tenants. With the potential profit involved it would pay to keep everything up to date to avoid knocks on the door.

    This is also a really obvious example of statistical manipulation. 22,800 potheads smoking for a week = about 450 smoking for a year, which suddenly doesn't sound so impressive. Credit to them for not including the crop's (massively exaggerated) street value though.
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