30 cannabis plants a day seized in raids

Police removing cannabis plants from a property. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Police removing cannabis plants from a property. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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NEARLY 30 cannabis plants a day are being recovered in the Lothians as police crack down on the gangs behind the trade in the illegal drug.

New figures show a total of 7635 plants were seized by Lothian and Borders Police in the nine months between last April and December, with the number seized expected to soar by a quarter for the year.

Officers recovered 7679 for the previous full year, with the cannabis plants valued at around £1.15 million.

The new figures were released as officers swooped on an address in Buccleuch Street, near the Meadows, and dismantled another cannabis-growing operation.

A 50-year-old man was arrested and charged with drug offences after 35 plants were seized, valued at £18,000. A four-figure sum of cash was also confiscated during the search.

Police chiefs today said the 30-a-day figure for plant seizures reflected the force’s targeting of serious organised crime gangs.

Gangsters from China, Malaysia and Vietnam are said to be behind the majority of the cannabis farm operations.

Farms with more than 100 plants have been found in locations including Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Gorebridge, Haddington, Kirknewton, Livingston, Longniddry, Penicuik, Prestonpans and Tranent.

A police spokesman said: “The number of cannabis plants seized across the force area reflects the progress made by Lothian and Borders Police in targeting the serious and organised crime groups whose activities cause misery.

“Cannabis cultivations are a serious fire risk not only to the property they are sited within, but to surrounding properties as well. The majority of cultivations fund other serious crimes such as human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering, and Lothian and Borders Police are committed to tackling this issue.

“To do so we rely on information from the public, and we would urge residents to be aware of the signs of a cannabis cultivation, which could include an unusual sweet smell from the premises, or that the windows of the property are permanently covered from the inside, with foil or bin bags used to line the windows.

“In addition, the noise of equipment such as fans and heaters may be audible, and the tenants may not live on the premises but visit regularly, possibly at odd times.”

Among the city areas where cannabis farms have been discovered are Juniper Green, Craigmillar, Newhaven, Gracemount and Cramond.

A city council spokesman said: “These seizure shows that the police’s pledge to tackle drugs in our communities is working. It’s important to crack down on all types of drug dealing and we would urge everyone to contact the police if they have any suspicions about drugs in their area.

“Much of the police success is as a direct result of intelligence from the public which shows how determined people are to see these criminals behind bars.”