Cannabis crackdown prompts police warning about violence, exploitation and organised crime
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A cannabis grower has been jailed and a further cannabis factory dismantled as police issued a warning about the dangers of violence and exploitation linked to organised crime.
Detectives seized cannabis worth up to £67,500 in January in an operation in Luton which also saw Selman Murtati arrested. He has now been jailed for two years.
On Tuesday (21 February) Bedfordshire Police’s Operation Costello team continued the force’s crackdown on organised crime by uncovering and dismantling a cannabis factory in Curlew Crescent, Bedford.
The property had sustained significant damage worth thousands of pounds, with one man subsequently arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug and producing cannabis.
The action comes as Bedfordshire Police warned about the wider dangers posed by cannabis factories in residential areas.
Earlier this month police were called to a property in Luton, after firefighters initially attended a fire at a flat in Bute Street and discovered a cannabis factory.
Detective Inspector Nick Gardner from Bedfordshire Police said: “These events highlight the terror and tragedy that runs through every aspect of the illegal drugs trade.
“Be under no illusion. Hardened criminal gangs, involved in some of the most serious and barbaric crimes imaginable, use the production and sale of cannabis as a fundamental part of their business model.
“In every part of this twisted system, there is the threat of violence between rival gangs, children being exploited into becoming street dealers, as well as other vulnerable people being brought here to live in horrendous conditions and man these farms.
“That’s without even considering the huge safety risks, with things like shoddy wiring commonplace in these cannabis operations which puts everyone around them at risk.
“We’ll continue to dismantle these factories and bring those involved in these operations to justice.
“But I would urge our communities across the county to think twice if they think cannabis is ‘just a bit of weed’, consider these wider implications and help us rid these awful criminal gangs from our streets.”
Bedfordshire Police responded to reports in January of a group of men armed with knives entering a property in Blenheim Crescent, Luton.
Officers forced entry and discovered inside that three rooms and the loft had been converted for use as a cannabis factory.
They had been covered in silver insulation with lighting, ventilation, plant food and watering systems installed.
There were more than 150 cannabis plants across the property, while experts believe the address could have generated up to £270,000 in cannabis for the organised crime group behind it every year.
Murtati, 22, of no fixed address, was arrested inside the address and subsequently pleaded guilty to producing a controlled Class B drug.
On Friday, 17 February he was sentenced to spend two years behind bars.
Visit our Operation Costello pages for more information about organised crime in Bedfordshire, the signs to spot and how to report concerns.