Landlords fall foul of drugs gang war

Landlords are unwitting victims in a violent drugs gang war over who controls Britain’s multi-million cannabis market.

Police are warning that vicious gangs are burning out rival drug farms or breaking in and robbing them.

Buy to let landlords are left to pick up the tab for vandalism and damage, unaware that crooks have rented their homes to grow drugs.

National figures show the trade in home-grown cannabis has soared in the past year – along with shootings, arson and robberies as the gangs fight over who controls the streets.

The conflict is between Vietnamese and South-east Asian crime lords who have ruled the drugs trade for some years and new gangs of British drug dealers.

The latest official figures show the gangs are looking for rental properties in rural areas to grow their cannabis.

North Yorkshire Police have seized thousands of plants in raids across the county – including one massive drugs factory in a country house where 31 rooms had been converted to grow cannabis.

Humberside Police have recovered more than 14,000 plants and South Yorkshire Police nearly 30,000 plants.

In the North West, more than 5,000 cannabis farms with 350,000 cannabis plants under cultivation with a street value of £350 million were raided by police in the past 36 months.

Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police drugs co-ordinator, warned the drugs war is major concern for police in the Yorkshire Post.

“We have seen in the past intrinsic links between south east Asian organised crime gangs, particularly Vietnamese, with links with people trafficking. Now many indigenous organised crime groups are coming through,” he said.

“Gangs involved in Class A distribution are diversifying into cannabis cultivation. The cannabis market is massive.

“We are alert to the fact of what has happened in Merseyside, where drugs related shootings have increased by a third, but we also think the mechanisms we have got in place have lessened the impact on communities.”

Landlords are warned to inspect their properties regularly and to look for tell-tale signs of cannabis cultivation – like a strong smell from the plants, darkened windows and heavy condensation from the heat needed to ripen the crop before harvesting.

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