11 arrested across Merseyside, Manchester and County Durham in dawn raids
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This morning (Thursday 8 February) warrants were carried out across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and County Durham as part of a NWROCU investigation into a conspiracy to produce cannabis.
Officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Greater Manchester Police, and Merseyside Police searched 14 properties in Wigan, Huyton, Rainhill, Broad Green, and Stockton on Tees and officers seized cash, criminal property, veicles, plant machinery, and other luxury items.
Five men from Wigan, four men from Huyton, and a man from Stockton on Tees have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to produce a controlled drug (namely cannabis). They have been taken to local police stations for questioning.
Another man from Broad Green was arrested on suspicion of assisting an organised crime group and theft by employee.
Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo from the NWROCU's Investigation Team said:
"Cannabis farms grown in residential, business, or other locations cause a substantal risk of flood and of fire being ignited from illegally abstracting electricity.
"The criminals running these farms cause misery to communities who suffer from anti-social behaviour and associated violent disputes.
"If you suspect a cannabis farm in your area, call police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
"Some of the signs that cannabis is being grown are:
• Strange smells and sounds • Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times • Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots, fertiliser, fans and industrial lighting • Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed • Heat from an adjoining property • Birds gathering on a roof in cold weather • Individually these activities may seem commonplace, however, together may indicate something more suspicious"
This activity was supported by Operation Henhouse, a National Economic Crime Centre initiative to provide funding to allow forces to undertake additional operational activity against fraudsters