Cannabis factory found in sleepy rural village

CRIMINALS have been warned they have nowhere to hide after a £50,000 cannabis factory was uncovered in a rural village.

Police found more than 300 cannabis plants in a raid on a rented house converted into a drug factory in Apethorpe, near Oundle, yesterday.

Insp Vaughan Clarke, sector commander for East Northamptonshire, said: “We are talking about hundreds of plants.

“That’s industrial growing of cannabis.

“It delivers a key message: It doesn’t matter where it is. If you think you can get away with it because it’s a rural location, think again.”

No-one has been arrested as the house was unoccupied when a team of eight officers forced the door at 10am, but Insp Clarke said police have a suspect in mind.

The landlord, who lives outside the county, is not a suspect and has been contacted by police.

A villager tipped off the police, who built up enough intelligence to get a search warrant signed by a magistrate.

When officers raided the detached house they found 140 saplings in one room and about 160 mature plants across three other rooms.

The house had been cleared of furniture and rigged up with lighting, extraction fans and an irrigation system.

Sgt Phil Holton, of Oundle Safer Community Team, said: “It was on a commercial scale.

“We are not talking about someone growing for their own use.

“It’s a professional set up.”

Scene of crime officers worked throughout the day to collect evidence from the house and dismantle the factory.

Sgt Holton said: “From my point of view it’s pleasing.

“We have been provided information from someone locally who was suspicious and we have done further investigation and we have found them to be confirmed.

“Even if you set up in rural areas and think you won’t get noticed, not only are we here but members of the public are keeping an eye out.

“It’s brilliant. Really pleasing.”

There were only four crimes reported in or near Apethorpe in the whole of last year.

To report a crime call police on 101 or 03000 111 222 from outside the county or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.