More cannabis could be in Ipswich

A SENIOR detective who oversaw an operation to uncover cannabis factories in Ipswich today warned there was likely to be more criminal gangs growing the drug in the town.

A SENIOR detective who oversaw an operation to uncover cannabis factories in Ipswich today warned there was likely to be more criminal gangs growing the drug in the town.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cutler said it would be “naïve” to think police had caught all of those cultivating the drug and said the force needed the community's help to bring those profiting from it to justice.

His comments came after brother and sister Anh Hai Bui and Ha Phu Bui were found guilty last week of their part in a drugs operation valued at more than £1.5million.

Anh Hai Bui, 34, was found guilty of cultivating cannabis, while his 27-year-old pregnant sister was convicted of making money from crime.

Fellow gang members Phuong Thi Vu, Tham Thi Hoang and Thanh Tran had pleaded guilty to cultivating the drug at an earlier hearing at Ipswich Crown Court.

They had rented homes in Clarkson Street, London Road and Norwich Road and developed them into highly professional drugs factories capable of growing hundreds of plants.

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Det chf insp Cutler said: “In the limited period we were concentrating on our investigation we tracked three houses down and it would be naïve to think there aren't more.

“This carried on for some time before it was discovered, possibly about 12 months.

“What these people are looking for is somewhere safe and somewhere to rent cheaply, somewhere to come and go without raising suspicion.

“The first thing that led us to the London Road address was some community based information saying someone had concerns and suspicions about what might be going on at the property and on the back of that we had a look at it.”

What police found was a major drugs operation. Arrests were made and a suspect at the address was traced to the second address in Clarkson Street.

The Norwich Road property was uncovered again by the community with the assistance of a police officer on a bike who effectively sniffed it out on his way home from work.

Det chf insp Cutler said: “Neighbours also had suspicions around there and were taking down vehicle registrations. They showed us there were links to the other addresses.”

He urged those in the community to look out for similar operations and said that even though those at the addresses were unlikely to be a nuisance to their neighbours, their activities were still illegal.

He said: “There is plenty to say that cannabis is harmful and this is an offence which is fuelling organised crime.

“These places are more discreet than crack houses. They do not draw attention to themselves and are probably longer term set-ups. They are looking to build-up an investment and make a profit.”

Windows and curtains are likely to remain shut, even in the height of summer.

People will be discreet about going to and from the property and are likely to close the front door quickly and open it only a little.

A strong smell of cannabis is likely to emanate from the property.

When setting up such houses, people will have to take ducting, lighting and irrigation systems into the home. Fertilisers and plant foods are also signs.

The property used is likely to be rented accommodation but is unlikely to be a flat due to the intensive lighting, heating and irrigation systems needed. Electricity meters are often bypassed.

There will be possible changes in the building structure with pipes and ducting added. Such operations can prove costly to landlords as holes are often placed in the ceiling for ducting and lighting and, in at least one of the Ipswich properties, sheeting had been put straight on the floor and the plants grown in compost in the sheets.

Thermal imaging cameras are sometimes used to find cannabis factories as they generate such heat.

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