A POLICE operation to stop drugs being smuggled into Armley Jail has uncovered one of the biggest cannabis “farms” found in Leeds, yards from the prison back wall.
It is estimated that thousands of plants have been found growing at the site.
Mounted officers became aware of a suspicious aroma coming from a group of semi-derelict buildings at the junction of Hall Lane and Mitford View, Armley, at 6.30pm on Wednesday and alerted police.
Special cutting equipment was use to force an entry into the property before officers carried out a search of the warren-like complex.
The “factory” is believed to involve former shops and is over a number of different floors.
Officers uncovered a ‘room within a room’ containing an estimated 1,500 mature cannabis plants being grown in a sophisticated hydroponic set-up under high-powered lights.
The police discovered another room with about the same amount of plants again. Hundreds more younger plants, including seedlings, were being grown throughout the complex.
The number and their estimated value is being assessed but it is expected to be one of the largest cannabis factories ever found in West Leeds.
A 34-year-old man and two youths, aged 15 and 17, have been arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis and were in custody last night
Insp Mark Bownass, of the West Inner Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We were running an operation to catch people trying to smuggle drugs into prisoners at the jail during visits and so the last thing we expected was to uncover such a significant drugs set-up right next door.
“It is thanks to the diligence of the mounted officers who became suspicious about the building that we made this major find. This is clearly a cannabis growing operation on an industrial scale which will be linked to organised crime.
“It is satisfying for the officers involved that this significant criminal operation has been disrupted and the drug prevented from reaching streets where it can cause damage to individuals and our communities.