Showing organised crime groups that the South West is #NoPlaceForDrugs

Showing organised crime groups that the South West is #NoPlaceForDrugs

An operation targeting organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in cannabis cultivation has led to 67 arrests, £6.8 million worth of cannabis and weapons including a 9mm pistol being seized from locations across the South West.

The region’s five police forces, supported by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) and working with the Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and independent charity Crimestoppers, carried out 58 warrants and searches at commercial cannabis grows as part of the region’s ongoing collective work to target and disrupt organised crime groups harming our communities through drug supply.

The South West’s results are part of a nationally coordinated operation to unearth and disrupt OCGs by taking out a key source of their revenue, while simultaneously apprehending many of those involved, safeguarding those being exploited, and increasing intelligence around how the networks operate. You can read a full round-up of Operation Mille on the NPCC website.

Chief Superintendent Ben Moseley, regional lead for the latest phase of the drugs operation ,said: “People need to understand that, as this operation shows, cannabis cultivation is not a harmless or low-level offence. We know that it is a key source of illicit income for organised crime groups often involved in other serious and organised crime, including class A drug importation and supply, exploitation of vulnerable people through modern slavery, and serious violence as they compete for territory.

“The weapons seized show the level of crime these OCGs are involved in. Teams across the region are now working to maximise the vast intelligence opportunities from the warrants, and there will undoubtedly be OCG members higher up the chain rightfully worried about that.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Shelford, said: “This operation continues to go from strength to strength. We collectively continue to make our communities safer by targeting the criminals bringing drugs and violence to our region as well as protecting the vulnerable they seek to exploit as workers or as users of the drugs they supply.

“This operation has seen a huge effort by all five regional forces working to ensure the South West is no place for drugs and this work will continue.”

Raising awareness of the dangers of cannabis grows

As well as activity to pursue criminals involved in cannabis cultivation, forces have been looking to raise awareness of the dangers of such grows, which become dangerous due to fire risks, unlawful abstraction of electricity, fumes and water damage.

PCCs are writing to landlords across the region highlighting the issue and SWROCU are attending the Rent Smart event in Devon to speak with private landlords and letting agents.

Anyone with information about a potential cannabis cultivation or drug dealing can contact their local force online or via 101.

People can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or

Key signs to spot:

  • Frequent visitors to a property at unsocial hours throughout the day and night.
  • Blacked out windows or condensation on the windows, even when it is not cold outside.
  • Bright lights in rooms throughout the night.
  • Electricity meters being tampered with/altered and new cabling, sometimes leading to street lighting. High electricity bills could also be an indicator.
  • A powerful, distinctive, sweet, sickly aroma and noise from fans.
  • Lots of work or deliveries of equipment to an address, particularly those associated with growing plants indoors without soil such as heaters and lighting.
  • An excessive amount of plant pots, chemicals, fertilisers, and compost.