Smell of cannabis leads to Sheffield raid on £2m factory

Cannabis factory.............the former Fontana night club
Cannabis factory.............the former Fontana night club

POLICE raided one of the largest and most sophisticated cannabis factories they have ever found in Sheffield, seizing plants with a potential street value of nearly £2m.

Officers swooped on a former nightclub in Attercliffe after locals complained about a small of cannabis.

They discovered plants growing in 12 rooms over three floors in what used to be the Dog and Partridge pub, later becoming Goodfellas’ Gentleman’s Club and then Fontana nightclub.

Heating, lighting, ventilation and watering systems had been installed, with ceilings lowered to retain the heat and the electricity meter bypassed to maximise profits.

A total of 1,966 plants at all stages of the cultivation cycle, worth an estimated £1.9m, were found during last Friday’s raid.

Two men have been remanded in custody after being charged with the cultivation of cannabis.

Insp Glen Suttenwood, of Sheffield’s Gang Enforcement Team, said: “It is safe to say that it is certainly one of the biggest cannabis finds ever across the whole of South Yorkshire and that whoever is behind it is going to be pretty hacked off and feeling the impact of this.

“What you tend to find is that people try to lower their risks by spreading out their plants across multiple locations, but with the number of plants found in this one building I doubt that this is the case here, although there could be other similar sized set ups out there and we are investigating this fully to try to identify all those involved in this chain - at all levels.

“You also tend to find with these set-ups is that those higher up the chain try to lower the risk to themselves by employing so-called gardeners to do their dirty work for them so that they keep their hands clean and rake in the money. For all these plants to have been taken out of circulation will certainly be hitting somebody hard.”

Insp Suttenwood added: “This operation was sparked by members of the community voicing concerns about the strong smell of cannabis in the area. Acting on this information, officers have successfully seized cannabis plants of tremendously high value.

“This came from two members of the public ringing in to tell us about a smell in the area and then officers acting on that and carrying out their own enquiries.

“This proves that if members of the public pass on information we will act of it swiftly and reward that trust with results like this. The cannabis factory was one of the most sophisticated set ups I have ever seen - there was a lot of investment in this operation - and I cannot praise the community enough for passing on information that set us down this path.”

Local people said they were surprised that the old club could have been turned into a cannabis factory because of the level of police attention over the years. The Fontana nightclub closed in February last year after reports of violence.