Massive drugs factory raid

PC Lloyd Archer and Sgt Simon Yates (front) with PC Debbie Heneke and PC Shane Potter at the raid
PC Lloyd Archer and Sgt Simon Yates (front) with PC Debbie Heneke and PC Shane Potter at the raid

POLICE have seized £200,000 worth of cannabis for the second time in 10 days after raiding what they called a “sophisticated and professional” drugs factory in St Leonards.

Officers swooped on a house in Hollinghurst Road on Friday, April 15, and discovered 400 plants of the Class B drug and an elaborate heating, lighting and watering system. The discovery came just over a week after police found the same number of cannabis plants at an address in Magdalen Road, St Leonards, and although the factories are not linked, officers believe they are making headway in the war on drugs.

Sgt Simon Yates, who led Friday’s raid, told the Observer: “People had been calling Crimestoppers saying something was not quite right at the house and there was a constant humming. We did a recce in the middle of the night, heard the same thing and smelled drugs so we moved in the next morning.”

Seven officers were involved in the operation which was made more tricky because all but one of the house’s doors had been glued shut, the letterbox was screwed tight and the windows blocked with hardboard. Police did get a key from the landlord but found all the locks had been changed.

There was nobody in the premises but four of the five rooms were full of plants and vents had been drilled through the walls.

“This was a massive set-up, the most professional and sophisticated one I have ever seen,” Sgt Yates said. “There were water butts in every room constantly pumping water through the plants.”

And he said that local residents seemed to be more and more willing to help the police bring drug growers and dealers to justice.

“The good thing about Crimestoppers is that it is totally anonymous and the community is more willing to say something if they know there won’t be any repercussions, which Crimestoppers guarantees.

“But we also get information more easily because of the way we are policing and engaging with communities.

“Over the last few months we have had some really, really good results and these two raids will hit the supply on the streets.

“Drug addicts we talk to tell us that it is getting harder to get hold of stuff and people are thinking twice about coming here to deal.”

The drugs seized from Hollinghurst Road have been sent away for tests and the investigation is continuing. Police are warning landlords to be on their guard as the cost of repairing the damage to a flat or house turned into a drugs factory can be up to £20,000.

Anyone with any information about the Magdalen Road or Hollinghurst Road seizures, or about drug activity in Hastings and St Leonards in general, can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or Hastings Police on 0845 6070999.