KINGSCLERE, Hampshire – A cannabis factory with an annual turnover of £6 million a year has been shut down after huge quantities of compost were seen being delivered.
Five men have been arrested after police raided the farm earlier this week, discovering hundreds of rows of carefully grown cannabis plants in the barn, which was protected by guard dogs.
A senior officer said the cannabis farm, located on the outskirts of the sleepy village of Kingsclere, Hampshire, was the biggest one he’d ever seen during a drug bust.
The property was searched after police received reports of thousands of plants being delivered to the premises, which had a street value of £1.5 million. They also found two crossbows being used to grow and dry the class B drug. The barn was protected by guard dogs which ‘raised flags’
On Monday officers arrested a man, 56, of Kingsclere, a man, 48, of Thatcham, Berkshire, a man, 47, of Reading, Berkshire, a man, 29, of Nebury, Berkshire, and a final man, aged 20, of Manor Park, east London. They have since been released under investigation, said police.
Officers began the huge operation on Monday, shutting down the factory and cutting down the plants. A source said: ‘It’s a record find in Hampshire. ‘It’s taken days to clear all the plants. There was £1.5 million worth of cannabis there, the farm was worth about £6 million a year.’
Sergeant Carl Holmes, who oversaw the raid, said: ‘This is the biggest cannabis farm I have ever seen during a bust. ‘When you get intelligence, you get a hunch of what to expect, but I don’t think any of the officers here today expected anything on this scale.’
Hampshire police constable Simon Denton, who was part of the drugs raid, called it an industrial cannabis farm on a ‘massive scale’. He added: ‘We had gained intelligence on the property after we had been told about an excess amount of compost being delivered to the property, which is not necessarily cause for concern for a farm.
‘However, we soon heard that part of the property had been closed off behind a gate, which was being guarded by dogs, which raises a few flags.’
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said five men had been arrested after the raid on a farm in Union Lane, Kingsclere. She said all had been released under investigation, adding: ‘All were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cannabis.’
More than 100 buildings in the village, which is designated a conservation area, have been listed by Historic England because they are of special, architectural or historic interest.