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Police raid yields 500 cannabis plants


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Woman appears in court after swoop on Kempston house.

Police have smashed two Kempston cannabis factories in as many weeks after swooping on another hidden drug-growing den on Wednesday.

Officers forced their way into a semi-detached house in Cater Street at 6.30am, where they found around 500 plants of the illegal crop.

They also arrested a 31-year-old woman, described by a spokesman as being of "Vietnamese origin", who appeared before Bedford Magistrates yesterday charged with cultivating the plants.

Sgt Stefanie Crichton, of the Bedford South Safer Neighbourhood Team, said the cannabis was "fairly mature", adding that the set-up in the three-bedroom property bore all the hallmarks of a professional operation, including extensive venting to siphon off the distinctive aroma of the herbs.

Sgt Crichton said: "They have used aluminium venting to try to get rid of the smell, which went into the loft. Even so, there was quite a strong stench of cannabis as soon as we opened the door.

"They have filled the two rooms downstairs and the three bedrooms with cannabis plants. We are talking about a value of quite a few thousands of pounds."

Officers were sweating from the hothouse atmosphere of the factory as they emptied it of cannabis and equipment on Wednesday morning.

They filled a skip with electrical cables, ventilation ducts, growing lamps and pots before carting the plants off in sealed brown bags.

Despite the size of the drug farm uncovered, neighbours said they had no idea of what had been going on behind the doors of the rented, cul-de-sac property.

As seems standard practice with such rackets, the growers had made efforts to avoid detection, bypassing the electricity meter to allow large amounts of current to be used to power their gear without alerting the supplier.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "I saw them move in with a little van a few weeks before Christmas. I didn't see any people — just the white van back up right to the door and a blur of people running in and out.

"Sometimes I would see a woman going in and out and a couple of cars would visit.

"My wife has got a good sense of smell, but we never smelled anything."

Earlier this month, the same police team busted a cannabis factory only a short walk from Cater Street, in Walcourt Road.

That raid was less successful, however, with only around 60 plants discovered and no-one arrested at the scene.

The occupants appeared to have been scared off after the letting agency tried to get into the house.

A home in St Leonard's Street, Bedford, was also exposed as a cannabis factory in February 2006.

In all, Bedfordshire Police has shut down nearly 50 similar hidey-holes over the last year.

Officers say the tell-tale signs are often curtains being permanently drawn, steamed-up windows, and people coming and going at odd hours.

Source: Bedford Today (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Johnston Press Digital Publishing
Website: Bedford Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More
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