Drugs worth tens of thousands of pounds seized by police during raid near Great Barford

Police continue crackdown on cannabis cultivation, county lines and criminal exploitation

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:48 pm

Drugs, cash, a samurai sword and machete were uncovered during a series of police raids on suspected drugs sites across Bedfordshire - including a large scale drugs operation near Great Barford.

On Thursday, March 18, officers raided a large unit on an industrial estate near the village and found hundreds of cannabis plants worth tens of thousands of pounds. A car worth around £170,000 was also seized.

A man in his 60s was arrested at the scene on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and possessing an offensive weapon. He has since been released on police bail.

The drying room at Great Barford

In the last few weeks, other large scale drugs operations have been found in Bedford, Meppershall, Tingrith and Leighton Buzzard.

During the searches across Bedfordshire, large quantities of cash and both Class A and Class B drugs were seized - a machete and a samurai sword were seized during a vehicle search in Bedford.

Bedfordshire Police says it has growing concerns that organised crime gangs are increasingly recruiting children into dealing cannabis.

As a result, many organised crime groups are believed to be involved in large scale cannabis production and supply locally.

One of the growing rooms at Great Barford

A number of warrants have also been carried out throughout the county this month in relation to county lines drugs gangs involved in the street supply of drugs.

These operations have resulted in a number of people being arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs and in one instance, one man was arrested on suspicion of forced labour.

It is believed that there are around 20 county drugs lines operating in Bedfordshire at any one time.

Since April 2020, police have disrupted a total of 19 county lines, which has resulted in 33 arrests.

Around £130,000 in cash and £136,000 in cash value of Class A and B drugs have been seized.

Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said: “Organised criminal gangs use drugs as their main source of income, and growing and selling cannabis is a key part of this business model.

"It is relatively cheap to produce and there are thousands of customers in Bedfordshire alone to sell to.

“These gangs then deliberately exploit young and vulnerable people, and drive much of the violence and antisocial behaviour that blights our communities.

"Very few of these vulnerable people earn a great deal of money and they are merely exploited through their circumstances and fear of violence.

“These groups are commonly involved in the cultivation of cannabis and large factories for production.

"They are then using the returns to fund the supply of Class A drugs, and are involved in firearms trafficking, money laundering, modern slavery and human trafficking.

“Nearly all of our investigations into county lines have identified vulnerable or exploited children being used to run the drugs.

"This is why we have worked closely with our partners to launch a new campaign - Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) - which aims to shine a light on exploitation and raise awareness around things like modern slavery, cuckooing and criminal exploitation in the county.

“We are working tirelessly to crackdown on these crime types and will continue to make our county a hostile place for anyone looking to run drugs lines into our communities or exploit vulnerable people to further their criminal enterprise.”

Anyone with information about drug activity can contact police on 101 or via the Bedfordshire Police website. Alternatively, people can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.