A crackdown on organised crime across the North East has seen two “industrial” cannabis farms destroyed.
Northumbria Police have launched Operation Sentinel along with Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police to target professional criminals.
Two separate properties in Gateshead were hit by raids and 300 plants were destroyed.
Separately, a shop on Coatsworth Road was also raided over the sale of illegal cigarettes.
The first warrant was executed last Monday at an address on Hillfield Street in Gateshead where 150 plants were found in the property.
A 54-year-old Vietnamese man was arrested at the address and his case has since been passed on to immigration services.
Two days later another warrant was executed at a flat on Mafeking Street in Gateshead where another 150 plants were found at the property.
A 50-year-old man was arrested in connection with the farm and he has since been summoned to court.
The electric had been bypassed at both addresses to evade capture – and avoid a big energy bill.
Cash, weapons and drugs have been seized in recent weeks as part of the concerted effort to penalise sophisticated organised crime.
One of the Detective Constables organising the operation, Northumbria Police’s Gregory Haynes, said: “We have executed dozens of warrants as part of Operation Sentinel and in the last couple of weeks have made a significant dent in the pockets of organised criminals.
“These farms are sophisticated operations that we suspect have links to organised crime and dangerous offenders.
“We know that there are mixed views on the production of cannabis and how seriously it should be taken by police but the reality is that it is an illegal drug.
“Regardless of what people think about the effect of cannabis on society, this is serious organised crime and it will not be tolerated.
“Two people have been arrested, one of whom was in the country illegally from Vietnam, but our investigation into these farms will continue.”
In another raid, police officers swooped on ‘Istanbul Stores’ in Gateshead and found a large quantity of illegal cigarettes hand rolling tobacco hidden in a car behind the shop.
A shop assistant was found in possession of an offensive weapon and arrested.
People are encouraged to contact the police if they have concerns about organised crime in their neighbourhood by calling 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online by visiting www.northumbria.police.uk.
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