Lockdown has seen high streets close and businesses fail, resulting in premises falling into the hands of drug gangs.. Venues from former Bingo halls to even nightclubs converted into industrial cannabis production factories capable of generating millions annually.
The electrics are rigged to the national grid and sophisticated set-ups ensure high yields from harvests every 3-4 months.
Something which is often ignored is the conditions these factories are in and the potential health risks of the cannabis created, in the example today i visited the factory was covered in bird shit throughout.
This latest factory was dilapidated and looked derelict on first glance.
Birmingham police uncovered a huge drugs factory suspected to be run by an organised crime gang after raiding a disused warehouse in Birmingham.
Officers forced entry to the unit in Bradford Street at 9.45am yesterday (6 Jan) and found a cannabis factory across three storeys.
A total of 3,112 plants were recovered with a value of around £3-million.
It’s one of the biggest police have discovered in recent months and we suspect it’s being used to fund organised crime.
Three Vietnamese men who are believed to be in the country illegally were arrested at the premises and later charged with cannabis cultivation.
Men aged 26, 36 and 36, were due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court today in connection with the find.
The last factory of this size i also visited and did a tour of the premises was a year ago. This was in west bromwich. There was also 3 floors and 3000+plants.
Police also found the electricity supply had been bypassed to power the extensive lighting and extraction system – and a trench dug into the road to tap into the mains.
Cannabis Disposal Team Manager Mike Hall said: “This was a really extensive set-up, not the biggest we’ve encountered but certainly up there in terms of scale.
“We received intelligence suggesting the property was being used as a drugs factory and acted quickly on that information to execute a warrant.
“We always value information like this and take it seriously: if anyone suspects a property near them is being used to cultivate drugs then please get in touch.
“Cannabis factories like this are often linked to organised and violent crime, tend to attract anti-social behaviour, and are serious fire risks because of the way electricity is bypassed and the dodgy wiring.”
When i went to find the factory i discovered the road works outside and the extent of the electric work done by the group to jump te electrics.
We have to question what evidence police have to prove these men are not modern slaves?
Official estimates from 2013 say around 13,000 individuals are trapped in some form of enslavement across the UK, and Vietnamese people make up the third-largest group of victims, with more than half of them under 18.
Over the last three years, the British government has identified 491 Vietnamese minors as potential child-trafficking victims, the majority of them teenage boys working in cannabis cultivation.
These are only the ones who have been found. Thousands more are estimated to be working undetected in makeshift cannabis farms in suburban houses, empty flats, deserted warehouses and derelict industrial estates. Others are forced to work in nail bars, brothels and restaurants, or kept in domestic servitude behind the doors of private residences.
Factory fire dangers
The added dangers of rigging electrics and the potential for fires is proven in a recent story from London.
Detectives from Specialist Crime are investigating a fatal fire at a unit in Clapton being used as a cannabis factory.
Police were called by London Fire Brigade (LFB) at around 16:10hrs on Friday, 31 December, to a fire at a lock-up garage in Southwold Road, E5.
A man was taken to hospital where he died on Sunday, 2 January. The man’s family has been informed and he has been identified as 35-year-old Ermal Qose. He was an Albanian national and had no known address in the UK.
A 33 year-old man [A] was arrested on 31 December on suspicion of false imprisonment and cannabis cultivation. He has been released under investigation.
A 26 year-old man [B] was arrested on Friday, 7 January, on suspicion of manslaughter, false imprisonment and cannabis cultivation. He remains in police custody.
Officers returned to the scene on the evening of 7 January, a week after the fire, to appeal for information as they continue their work alongside LFB colleagues to establish the full circumstances.
The detective leading the investigation, DCI Mark Rogers, said: “Ermal tragically lost his life having been trapped inside the locked garage which was being used for the cultivation of cannabis when the fire broke out. My thoughts and sympathies are with his family.
“This is now a manslaughter investigation and, although officers have spoken with a number of local people, I want to hear from members of the public who were in the area on New Year’s Eve or who have seen people coming and going from the garage. If you can assist and have not yet spoken with police, please get in touch.”
DCI Rogers added: “In addition to appealing for witnesses in this case, I am also calling on those who choose to ignore the many and obvious issues caused by their own use of illegal drugs to reflect on Ermal’s death. It is well known that this trade ruins the lives of almost everybody associated with it, and that fact is all too clearly demonstrated here.
Similar examples have happened in Birmingham and Dudley where people have died in cannabis factory fires.
The conditions inside the factory were horrendous and if anyone lived in there it is inhumane and any drugs produced in there would be detrimental to your health.