Pubs used by drug growers

PUBLISHED: 09:18 16 November 2007 | UPDATED: 21:52 29 May 2010

POLICE are asking landlords in Essex to be vigilant about the way their properties are being used after eight men were arrested last week for the cultivation of cannabis. The eight men, who are all Vietnamese and reside in Essex and East London, were arre

POLICE are asking landlords in Essex to be vigilant about the way their properties are being used after eight men were arrested last week for the cultivation of cannabis.

The eight men, who are all Vietnamese and reside in Essex and East London, were arrested in an operation last Wednesday.

Det Chief Insp Gary Murray said: "These arrests follow a lengthy and complex operation by officers from the Essex Serious and Organised Crime Directorate.

"During the operation two large industrial units capable of growing 1500 plants at a time together with a number of residential addresses converted into cannabis factories have been uncovered, dismantling a multi-million-pound criminal organisation."

The arrests have prompted police to warn landlords that they should be wary of the way their properties were being used, as most of the "factories" raided were in homes rented from landlords who were oblivious to the illicit activity taking place.

A police spokesman said: "Landlords and letting agents are advised to inquire about potential tenants' occupations and should be cautious of anyone offering more money than the asking price."

A number of telltale signs have been identified by police, which should prompt suspicion in landlords if they are noticed.

If there is intense activity when the tenants move in but seemingly very little thereafter; if the curtains or blinds are permanently drawn; or if the tenant insists on paying rent in advance or away from the property, for example.

Likewise if you are not invited beyond the doorstep, notice different occupants visiting throughout the day, or the tenant seems particularly reluctant to let you inside, some form of criminal activity may be going on.

Cannabis factories are generally set up to grow skunk, a strain of the plant that has been made far more potent through selective breeding.

Skunk, as the name would suggest, has a very strong and distinctive smell and any particularly pungent odours coming from landlords' properties should ring alarm bells.

If you are a landlord suspicious about how your property is being used, or a resident who has seen suspicious activity going on at a nearby property, Essex Police urge you to speak to an officer at your local police station.

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