In recent weeks officers from Maesteg neighbourhood policing team have executed three search warrants in the valley seizing cannabis with a potential street value of over £250,000.
Each of these has been linked to organised criminal groups and have resulted in people being charged and remanded into custody.
People often talk of cannabis production and use as being a victimless crime, but it’s not. Organised crime is behind many of these cannabis factories. The criminals are earning a lot of money off the back of our communities, and they protect their plantations by using violence and intimidation.
Whatever your viewpoint on cannabis the serious and organised crime and people trafficking which is linked to these factories can cause real harm to our communities and funds further criminality.
It is thanks to the information and support we get from within our communities that your neighbourhood policing team, working alongside specialist departments, have seized over 1800 cannabis plants from such setups in the past 12 months and made 10 arrests with investigations still ongoing into those further up the chain in these cases.
Early Warning Signs
Organised Crime Groups involved in the wholesale production of cannabis often use rental properties to distance themselves from illegal activity. They also use others to ‘front’ their activity. These individuals appear to be genuine and respectable, often presenting themselves as having a family and new job in the local area, looking to rent a property for their own use. After they have taken possession of the property they disappear without a trace and are replaced by others who convert it for cannabis production.
Be suspicious if:
A tenant wishes to pay several months’ rent in cash, in advance – resist the urge to accept advance rent payments without checking the applicants references and background.
The tenant possesses large amounts of cash with no apparent source of income.
You receive requests to avoid visiting the premises. The explanation may seem plausible and may be combined with a request to meet you elsewhere to pay the rent rather than visiting the address.
There is a sudden increase in unusual fortification such as dead-bolts or alarms on interior doors.
The Tell-Tale signs
Some signs include:
Neighbours may notice that the residents of a property are not living full time at the address, only visiting for a brief time each day, or every couple of days.
Electrical wiring that has been tampered with – to tap into the mains supply.
A sudden jump or fall in electricity bills.
Powerful lights that are on all day or night – growers use 600-watt lights to speed up plant growth.
Blacked out windows – the use of black plastic or heavy fabric on windows (usually hidden by blinds or net curtains).
High humidity in the property – growing operations require a lot of moisture, therefore you may notice signs of significant condensation, peeling paint, mildewed carpet, or wallboards.
Large ducting tubes (like a tumble drier outlet) used to take hot air out of the property or bring fresh air in may protrude out of a window.
Bin bags full of stalks and roots of Cannabis plants in the rubbish bin or garden.
Reduction in property values.
Adverse publicity for the rental company.
Loss of rent.
Cost of extensive repairs/refurbishment.
Increased property insurance premiums.
Increased risk of fire or floods due to cannabis growing operations.
Hostile tenants and neighbours.
Penalties including, asset seizure by police, loss of property use and property damage, from police enforcement.
Increased risk of attracting other criminality to the property.
As a property owner/landlord/letting company, insist on revisiting the property a few weeks after the agreement has been signed.
Neighbours and the public are the eyes and ears who can report any suspicions.
To report a suspected cannabis production scene, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or report directly to South Wales Police via 101, in person or using our online reporting system.