HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds worth of drugs has been seized after undercover cops busted a cannabis factory in Ipswich.

Plain-clothed officers raided a house in the town's Beatty Road after receiving intelligence indicating cannabis plants were being cultivated. A man arrested at the scene was today being questioned at Ipswich police station.

Drugs cops smashed their way into the semi-detached three-bed property through a back door yesterday afternoon before the large scale of the illegal operation began to emerge. The electrics had been altered to support heaters, lights and fans Hundreds of plants were found in five rooms, each fully ventilated and brightly illuminated with high-powered lighting.

All of the windows in the house were covered, while bags of compost were stacked in the kitchen. The plants, which were up to four feet tall and were described as "mature", were taken away for analysis and will be disposed of in due course.

Meanwhile, the equipment used to grow the plants has been destroyed to ensure it can not be employed for the same purposes again.

One of the growing rooms Scenes of crime officers spent much of the day scouring the house, which, it is believed, was being rented by a Vietnamese woman.

The bumper discovery comes midway through Suffolk police's crackdown on illegal substances as part of National Tackling Drugs Week.

Today, the detective who led raid told of his delight at cracking the factory.

DS Dave Green said: "These drugs will have a street value of hundreds of thousands of pounds. There are plenty of plants and they have been here for sometime.

"This is in the middle of a housing estate and is an example of how they (cannabis cultivators) will put these things anywhere, which is a real shame.

"They are looking to make as much money as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it's not unusual for us to get results like this."

While cannabis is considered a recreational drug, there are growing health worries over the impact it can have. Medics fear the stronger forms of the drug can be psychologically addictive, while many believe it is a 'gateway' to stronger illegal substances.

DS Green said: "This is in the middle of a residential estate and children and families are nearby.

"We can't say it in this instance but we have found historically that there have been businesses linked to operations such as this, which have links with class A drugs and organised crime."

Earlier this week it was revealed that an increasing number of cannabis factories was being uncovered in Suffolk.

In 2007, Suffolk Constabulary recorded 19 crimes of cannabis production where ten or more plants were confiscated. In 2006, 14 were recorded and 13 were recorded in 2005.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith has defied the government's own experts by announcing that laws on cannabis will be toughened up. She said the drug must be upgraded from Class C to Class B to avoid "risking the future health of young people".

The move comes despite the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) concluding that the health dangers from cannabis did not justify its inclusion in the higher category.

A 28-year-old man has been arrested and is being questioned on suspicion of being concerned with the cultivation of cannabis.

Source: Evening Star, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Archant Regional
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