A NEW dedicated team has been launched by Force CID to investigate large scale cannabis production in the West Midlands.
The Drugs Investigation Team (DIT), launched in June, sees specialist officers dealing with large scale commercial production of cannabis and whilst targeting Class A dealers who impact on the quality of life of communities.
The team, based in Smethwick, will operate seven days a week and comprises 15 detective constables, three detective sergeants and one detective inspector.
Cannabis farms are defined as premises, or part of premises, that have been adapted for the sole purpose of producing large amounts of cannabis.
Detective Inspector Tom Chisholm, leading the team, said: “We recognise that cannabis cultivation is becoming a major problem across the West Midlands. Many people may think it’s a harmless low-level drug but this is simply not the case.
“Besides the damaging physical affects, the cultivation of cannabis is often directed by organised crime groups who are responsible for trafficking humans from Vietnam and other parts of the world to work in cannabis factories.
“Many groups use the cash generated by cannabis to purchase class A drugs and firearms. We regularly witness extensive criminal damage to property where houses are converted in factories and the theft of large amounts of electricity where offenders bypass the electricity meter. The factories present a major fire hazard and are often booby-trapped. They present a real risk to neighbours, the emergency services and landlords.”
The team will develop links with utility companies, housing associations and private landlords to exchange information to prevent cannabis farms in properties, as well as giving them advice and guidance on the tell-tale signs of what to look for in their premises and safety advice. Work will also begin within Vietnamese community groups to promote the UK law on drugs.
Officers and staff may find the following tell tale signs useful when identifying premises that may be being used as cannabis factories:
- Strong odours coming from an address
- Empty liquid fertiliser bottles or other fertiliser packaging
- Tin foil, large electric lights bulbs
- A constant low humming noise
- Residents not living at the premises full time, only visiting for short periods each day
- Bin bags with vegetable material
- Powerful lights on at night
- Windows blacked out or curtains drawn all day
- Large silver ducting tubes coming from the property.
Officers planning warrants on premises suspected of being cannabis factories should contact the DIT. For further information on the team, including contact details, visit their intranet site here.
Officers who attend cannabis farms are requested to complete the investigation log with as much detail as possible, including the following categories:
- PIC details
- Tenant details
- Descriptions of individuals frequenting the premises from witnesses/CCTV
- Landlord details
- Estate agent details
- Vehicles at scene, or witnessed to frequent the premises
- Telephone numbers/contact details at scene
- Hydroponic supplier details (receipts etc)
- Booby traps at scene
- Unusual M.O./feature of hydroponic set up
The investigation log should then be printed off and scanned to the Holmes indexers team at Bloxwich at CI_BLOXWICH_INDEXERS.
Please contact the Drugs Investigation Team if you are dealing with, or planning an investigation concerning large scale cannabis cultivation.