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Police have uncovered a multi-million pound cannabis farm hidden inside a Grade II listed Victorian building during a drugs bust.
They swooped on historic red bricked Haliburton House in West Bromwich, in the West Midlands, which was build way back in the 1870s, but had believed to have been out of use for 20 years.
An energy supplier grew suspicious when they noticed an increase in the amount of electricity being used within the building – which had originally been an office and factors for metal producer Archibald Kenrick & Sons.
Cannabis plants growing under artificial lights were discovered by police with the drugs that could have been manufactured from the haul worth a street value of £3million and the bust linked to organised crime.
West Midlands Police shared a video of the property which showed cannabis plants growing across three floors of the Victorian era building.
Six hundred watt lights can be seen hanging above the plants – with the lights illegally connected to the power mains.
The crops were destroyed and thousands of pounds worth of other equipment were also seized in the raid organised by local police.
West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Ade George, said: “We strongly suspect this drugs factory, given the scale, is linked to serious organised crime.
“It’s a big win for us and its discovery, especially as the crop was nearing harvest, will be a significant dent in the finances of the crime group involved.
"We've seized several million pounds worth of drugs plus equipment also costing tens of thousands of pounds.
"A drugs factory of this size, with all the modifications, takes a lot of time and effort; I would suggest it has been in operation for around six months. There is also clear evidence of living quarters within the property.
"No-one has been arrested at this stage but our enquiries into who was behind the factory are underway and I'd urge anyone with information to get in contact."
While a spokesperson from the police department gave further information on the successful raid.
They said: "We've uncovered one of the largest cannabis factories ever found in the West Midlands with a £3million crop hidden inside an historic factory building.
"Officers came across the farm concealed within Haliburton House in Hall Street South, West Bromwich – a Victorian industrial building dating back to the 1870s that was previously home to a metal manufacturing firm.
"Thousands of plants, many approaching maturity and harvest ready, were being cultivated throughout the Grade II listed property.
"And it's estimated the crop was worth up to £3million.
"It was discovered back on 14 July when a utilities company reported their suspicions after seeing a surge in electricity usage at the historic building.
"Our specialist Cannabis Disposal Team was not able to clear the site immediately due to an asbestos warning ' but after working with a specialist contractor the building was made safe and the drugs removed for destruction."
Cannabis Disposal Team Manager, Inspector Scott Shaw, added: "The construction of the cannabis farm disturbed asbestos construction material in the building; both the plants and property were contaminated as a result.
"We worked with the Health and Safety Executive and specialist contractors to clear the site and make it safe.
"The health hazards for anyone working in this environment are very clear ' but there would also have been a serious danger to anyone using asbestos contaminated drugs.
"Discovering this drugs factory will have had struck a significant financial blow to the organised criminals behind it but it's also protected members of our communities from very serious harm."