One of the largest cannabis growing operations ever discovered in the UK holding plants worth up to £6 million has been sniffed out in Soham by vigilant police officers.
The huge factory was discovered by the officers who had been on patrol in Fordham Road on Wednesday when they recognised the pungent smell of the drug.
They followed the unmistakable aroma to an industrial unit in Regal Drive, where after forcing their way in they were confronted with 7,000 growing plants, 5,000 root balls and 400 plants in the process of being dried out spread across the 4,000 root bulbs spread across 24,920 square foot premises. A further search found the drugs were spread across five rooms and a separate living area for the ‘gardeners’.
One man, believed to be from Vietnam, has been arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis but a second person was able to escape officers when they raided the factory.
A police spokesman said: “There were two people living at the factory in squalid conditions. When we tried to break the door down one of them jumped from a first-floor window to evade arrest. We caught one of them with the help of a dog unit, but the other person remains at large. We believe others would have been involved in running such a large production site so enquiries are ongoing.”
Sgt Dan Bramley added: “This was good proactive work by the officers who tracked down the cannabis factory after noticing the smell.”
Hundreds of bags of compost seized during the raid have been donated to the Cambridge-based Emmaus charity which supports formerly homeless people and will be used in its fruit and vegetable garden. Director, Diane Docherty said: This demonstrates the excellent links that we enjoy with Cambridgeshire Constabulary. “They have stopped this factory in its tracks, and we often support former drug users by giving them a place to live and work as they recover.”