Bristol

Avon and Somerset police target cannabis factories

Police are targeting suspected cannabis factories across the Avon and Somerset area over the next four weeks.

They said that a similar three-month campaign over the summer had resulted in 68 arrests and the discovery of more than 7,000 plants.

Paul Bunt, of Avon and Somerset Police, said many factories were set up by gangs who rented properties to cultivate the drug.

He said: "Some see it as a lower level drug, but we take it very seriously."

Mr Bunt continued: "The cannabis trade itself is illegal, but it can also bring other crime to an area if a factory is located there."

He said the gangs tended to install several "gardeners", who were usually illegal immigrants, to grow and harvest the plants.

He said the force had been working with Western Power Distribution as large amounts of electricity is required to grow the drug.

Mr Bunt explained that the power supply to the buildings is often illegally rewired to bypass meters.

Western Power funded hand-held thermal imaging devices, costing £6,000 each, to help in the detection of suspected properties.

The campaign is part of Operation Viscount which starts on 22 November.

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