Millionaires' Row with an £800,000 cannabis factory


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During the recent warm snap, many of us would have given a lot to have access to our own private swimming pool.

But for the occupants of one house on Millionaires' Row, a quick dip was out of the question - instead, they had filled the pool with cannabis plants worth £800,000.

Police who raided the property following a tip-off said they were left "speechless" when they discovered the massive cannabis factory, complete with special lighting, heaters and fans.

They are seeking a group of people who are thought to have been renting the £500,000 property from its owner.

The discovery was made on a lane of substantial, detached houses north of Preston, Lancashire, after a warrant was issued over an unpaid fine and the occupant was spotted running away.

Officers forced their way in and stumbled across the industrial-scale cannabis plantation in the indoor pool at the back of the property.

Chief Inspector James Lee said what they found had left them "speechless".
He added: "We have had experienced officers working at the scene and they have never seen a drugs cultivation operation like this in more than 20 years of conducting police searches. The most staggering aspect to this is we expect to recover somewhere in the region of 1,000 fully grown plants which is likely to put this seizure, in terms of street value, of between £700,000 and £800,000."

Neighbours had noticed the hum of electrical equipment coming from the 30ft pool but assumed it had been for heating the water.

They said a group of Chinese men had been living there recently but no-one had any inkling of what was going on inside.

Police used a helicopter in an unsuccessful attempt to trace the man seen fleeing the property. A 30-year-old man was arrested at another address, has been released on police bail.

Chief Inspector Lee said: "We know the property was rented to two men and two women, described as Oriental. We urgently want to trace them and would urge them to come forward and speak with police."

They are also looking for descriptions of vehicles seen at the house and for anyone who knows the identity of the man who fled the house to come forward.

Last year police warned of the growing number of cannabis factories in unassuming suburban locations and issued advice on how to spot them.

A typical domestic factory of the sort raided in London alone at a rate of two a day can produce as much as £30,000 worth of skunk every three months.

Larger-scale farms of the type found in Preston can yield £8million a year, much of it ploughed back into more serious crime.

The gangs behind them - often, according to police, from Vietnam or elsewhere in South-East Asia - frequently tamper with the mains supply to get free electricity to light the plants, making them major fire hazards.

The house where the plants were found, named D'Urton Place, has a chequered recent history. It was bought in 2002 by Malaysian-born hospital psychiatrist Dr Karrupiah Selvam who moved in with his new wife Lynda.

Dr Selvam sold the property last year to Indian businessman Mohamed Vali for £475,000 but he has not lived there, instead telling neighbours he plans to knock the sprawling mock Tudor property down and build a modern house on the site.

Since then he has been renting the large, detached house - which has a pool and snooker room in two separate outbuildings - for a reported £2,500-a-month.

"With the sort of profits they were making from cannabis, the rent would have been a drop in the ocean.

A woman whose detached property backs onto the house added: "You would see this infra-red type light at night coming over the fences or through the bushes.

She said, "It was very eerie but everyone just thought it was some sort of security system. No-one thought it could be a cannabis farm in an area like this. You never saw the lights in the main house go on or off and it was rare to see anyone there although occasionally a grey car was parked outside."

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SOURCE: This is London
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