Tens of thousands of marijuana plants have been seized across the region in the past year, with police warning of a worrying rise in violence between local drug gangs attempting to take on their south east asian counterparts to secure a foothold in the multi-million pound industry.
National figures have revealed an “explosion” in the trade of high-strength skunk cannabis in the past year, with a marked rise in shootings and gang-related violence.
The lucrative multi-million pound industry and perceived soft punishments for those caught setting up cannabis factories, means many local gangs involved in dealing Class A drugs are now forcing their way into a business traditionally dominated by Vietnamese and other south east asian criminal groups.
The number of gangs now involved in setting up the cannabis factories, means many are now targeting rural areas as a quiet location to grow the drug undetected.
This all comes against the backdrop of the inreasing strength of cannabis. In West Yorkshire, the average strength of the drug is around 21 per cent, far above the national average of 16 per cent.
In September, North Yorkshire Police discovered more than 500 cannabis plants during a raid at an address in Copgrove, a village neighbouring Staveley - which has some of the highest house prices in Yorkshire - between Harrogate and Boroughbridge.
In November, officers discovered 400 marijuana plants in a seven-bedroom Victorian mansion in Whitworth near Todmorden.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post show North Yorkshire Police seized 2,717 cannabis plants in the past financial year, 505 of which were from rural areas.
Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police force drugs co-ordinator, says it is a problem being mirrored across the region.
“The rise in violence is a definite cause of concern,” he told the YEP. “We are putting a lot of effort into it.
“Part and parcel of the cannabis growing culture is the firearms and violence.
“These organised crime groups don’t police themselves by going to the office for fair trade - they do it by violence.”