Rival gang raid leads police to cannabis farm

Police officers remove bags of plants from the Ochiltree Gardens address. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Police officers remove bags of plants from the Ochiltree Gardens address. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A CANNABIS farm was discovered by police after a suspected break-in by rival criminals trying to steal the drugs.

The cultivation was housed in a second-floor flat in Ochiltree Gardens in The Inch, when it was raided by thieves on Tuesday night.

Residents reported hearing a “bang” at the door of the two-bedroom property and police officers arrived on the scene a short time later.

A Chinese man was believed to be renting the flat for the last six months. Gangsters from mainland China, Malaysia and Vietnam are behind many of the cannabis cultivations in the Capital.

Police confirmed there had been a reported break-in at the flat, but “inquiries were 
ongoing”.

Officers said that a “substantial” haul of cannabis had been recovered.

One source said that the flat had been broken into by drug gang “competitors” or “local criminals”.

Neighbours had complained of lights flickering in their own flats in recent months, a possible sign that the large amount of electricity consumed by a typical cannabis farm was affecting the building’s supply.

Charles MacDonald, 70, a retired labourer and gardener, lives in the block. He said: “I was in the house when there was a loud bang at about 8pm on Tuesday. I never went onto the stairs but not long afterwards there was a police car in the street.

“Two police officers were on guard outside the flat last night and they were here on Wednesday until 5pm.

“It was a Chinese man, maybe 30 to 35, who was renting the flat. He had been here for about six months and various Chinese people have also rented it over the last few years. I would try to speak to him on the stairs but I don’t think he had good English. He seemed a pleasant enough guy though.”

Mr MacDonald said he had also spotted plastic bottles of plant food left in the garden.

He added: “Our lights would flicker on and off sometimes. The lights went off in my flat for about 30 seconds after the police arrived and an engineer from a power company
was with them, too.”

A team of five officers arrived at the flat yesterday lunchtime to collect further evidence. The door has been boarded up to seal off the premises.

Another resident said: “I had no idea there was a cannabis farm there. I never noticed any smells. I never even met the man who was living there.”

A police spokesman said: “Police responded to an address in Ochiltree Gardens at around 8.30pm on Tuesday following reports of a break-in.

“On the arrival of officers, a cannabis cultivation was discovered within and inquiries are ongoing into this recovery.”

In recent years, an average of 30 plants a day has been seized by police in the Lothians.