DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch investigating the illegal cultivation of drugs today seized cannabis plants worth an estimated £400,000 in Co Down.
The seizure was made at workshop premises in the Millisle area.
A total of 800 plants were seized along with a substantial amount of electrical equipment.
Detective Inspector Andy Dunlop, from Organised Crime Branch, said: “This was a substantial production operation, one of the largest ones we have uncovered in recent times.
“It was quite sophisticated in the way it had been set up, almost like a processing facility, with young plants, the remnants of a previous harvest, space for drying the product and space for waste products.
“No arrests were made this morning but our enquiries will be continuing over the coming days.
“Today’s operation was partly due to information provided by the community as a result of our cannabis awareness campaign ‘Scratch and Sniff’ which we launched last September.
“This initiative was promoted with Crimestoppers to help people spot the tell-tale signs of cannabis factories.
“The objective was to raise public awareness so that more people report suspicious activity to police or, if they wish to remain anonymous, to contact Crimestoppers.
“It is delivering positive results but I would appeal to people to keep their eyes, ears and most definitely their noses, open.
“Police officers across Northern Ireland have been distributing ‘scratch and sniff’ cards to the public to educate and inform them about the signs to spot and detect cannabis factories by recognising the specific smell of growing cannabis.
“The cards contain an element that replicates the smell of cannabis in its growing state which is a different smell to when it is being smoked.
“If you have any concerns about drug cultivation, dealing or supply in your community, please call local police on the 101 non-emergency number.
“You can also report via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“Any information Crimestoppers receives is then submitted to a central point within the Police Service of Northern Ireland and forwarded to the relevant policing area. This information can result in searches being conducted which lead to drugs being seized or cannabis farms being closed down.”
“The PSNI has included a link to its YouTube channel where a DVD provides advice and guidance to help recognise the tell-tale signs for a cannabis factory.”
The signs to spot cannabis farming:
. Strong and sickly sweet smell
. Constantly covered or blocked off windows
. Visitors at unsociable hours
. High levels of heat and condensation