Public praised for help in sniffing out drugs factories in lockdown
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
Members of the public have been praised for helping police to sniff out a growing number of cannabis factories which have sprung up during the coronavirus lockdown.
New figures show that between November last year and the end of April this year, police have uncovered 23 cannabis grows in the Broadland, Great Yarmouth and North Norfolk areas of the county at least 10 of which have been larger scale grows.
A trial is due to take place next month involving a gang involved in the running of a £1m cannabis farm discovered on an industrial estate at Lenwdade in July last year.
Norfolk, like the rest of the country, has been in lockdown since the end of March following the coronavirus outbreak and police chiefs believe that may have played a key part in allowing people to help them identify cannabis factories in the county.
Earlier this week Klevi Haxhaj, 25, and Ditmir Avdia, 29, were both jailed after they admitted their parts in a cannabis factory discovered by police in Middleton Crescent, Costessey, in February after members of the public went to police about the “stench”.
Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall, county policing commander, said police had received a lot of calls from people during lockdown reporting suspicious activity, including calls related to cannabis factories.
He said: “They really have a big part to play.
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“In lockdown with people being home and being more aware of what’s going on in their immediate surroundings has been a real advantage.
“A lot of people have suddenly become aware of what’s around them.
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“People have been exploring their local environment
“People have been walking footpaths and down streets they wouldn’t normally.
“The public are becoming more aware and inquisitive and they are phoning us.
“We’ve had some really good results.”
Chf Supt Marshall said the public reporting what they had seen “was a factor” in the good results the police had achieved in recent weeks and months and urged people to continue contacting about their suspicions.
The production of cannabis is often linked to organised crime groups involved in other criminal activity and Chf Supt Marshall said cannabis grows can often see the exploitation of vulnerable people who are referred to as ‘gardeners’, and who manage and look after the plants.
Chf Supt Marshall said police would continue to target those involved in cannabis factories and wanted anyone who had information about these criminal enterprises to contact police.
In December last year, police carried out a warrant at an industrial unit, at Ditchingham, near Bungay seizing 734 plants with a street value of £500,000.
When officers arrived, they were let into the building and discovered the plants and growing equipment. Tuan Nguyen, 41, of Ditchingham, was arrested at the scene and charged with production of cannabis.
Nguyen pleaded guilty to the offences at was jailed for 14 months in January this year.
On February 27 this year police executed a warrant at an address in Middleton Crescent, Costessey, seizing 477 plants.
Haxhaj and Avdia were arrested and both admitted producing cannabis resulting in 12 month jail terms for them both when they were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court this week.
Jail terms were also given to two other people sentenced this week following police raids in February this year.
Ardit Ademaj, 24, was also jailed for seven months after admitting cultivation of cannabis following a raid on a property in Braithwait Close, Bowthorpe when police found at least 130 cannabis plants in various stages of growth worth around £50,000.
Meanwhile, Marjus Klosi, 21, was found at an address in Lowry Cole Road, Sprowston, in February this year.
Klosi, who had been acting as a gardener, was jailed for seven months after he was found at the property along with a total of 138 cannabis plants.
Earlier this year, police found about 2,000 cannabis plants at a farm building in Hopton shortly after 2.30am on April 17 after they received reports of a suspected burglary at the building.
A man, aged in his 40s, was arrested at a property in the Gorleston area and questioned.
He was released under investigation while enquiries continue.
Anyone with information about drugs should call police on 101.
Signs to look out for
Members of the public have been urged by police to contact them if they become aware of potential cannabis factories springing up around them in their neighbourhood in the coming weeks and months.
Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall from Norfolk Police said the signs for people to look out for include:
• A strong or sickly, sweet smell in the air.
• Buildings with windows constantly blocked off.
• High levels of heat and condensation and the constant buzzing of ventilation.
• Comings and goings from an address in unsociable hours.
Anyone with information or concerns about drug activity in their area can contact police on 101 and ask to speak with their local policing team.
Alternatively, people are able to report crime anonymously by contacting the independent crime fighting charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.