Cannabis worth £9m is seized in north west in police operation

Cannabis with an estimated street value of £9m has been seized across the North West of England in a month-long operation targetting cultivation sites.

Officers from Titan, the North West's organised crime unit, worked alongside the region's police forces and local businesses in the crackdown.

Utility companies, garden centres, DIY stores and the Royal Mail helped in spotting the signs of cannabis farming.

This included purchases of typical equipment used by criminals.

'Strong message'

Det Supt John Lyons, from Titan, said: "The operation has resulted in significant seizures of cannabis, a high number of arrests and the destruction of hundreds of cannabis farms.

"We hope this sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of becoming involved in cannabis cultivation - whether from letting a room in your property be used for cannabis growth or to those higher up the chain - that we will not tolerate this activity," he said.

"An increasing number of people who grow cannabis are directly funding dangerous, organised criminal gangs. These gangs are often responsible for gun crime, violence and intimidation across the North West."

As well as the seizure and destruction of more than 17,000 cannabis plants, officers have also seized more than 4kg of cannabis leaf and large quantities of other drugs including cocaine and LSD in Operation Broadley.

The fire service and local authorities also aided police forces in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire, North Wales and Cumbria in the operation.

"People who grow cannabis often have a total disregard for the safety of others, frequently endangering the lives of those in neighbouring properties by tampering with electricity supplies and leaving live electrical cables exposed, increasing the risk of fire."

Cannabis was reclassified from a class C to a class B drug in 2009, with dealers caught selling the drug facing up to 14 years in prison.

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