UK: Over 50 arrests made in crackdown against Albanian gangs running £9m cannabis farms

Cannabis cultivation and serious crime is inextricably linked, with the profits funnelled into fuelling further criminality and exploitation.

In a month-long national operation aimed at detecting and disrupting Albanian Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) linked to cannabis cultivation, money laundering, and immigration crime, Greater Manchester Police and partner agencies seized over 10,000 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of almost £9 million.

£24,000 cash was also recovered, and 53 arrests were made, predominantly for cultivation of cannabis and abstracting electricity, but a series of other offences including money laundering, possession with intent to supply and possession of weapons.

All 43 police forces across England and Wales – working with Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) and partner agencies – took part in the intensive activity codenamed Operation Mille.

The pursuit of OCGs was designed to apprehend key players, increase intelligence across the force, and safeguard those who are being exploited by the gang’s and forced to live and work on cannabis farms.

Detective Inspector Paul Crompton, from GMP Serious Organised Crime Group, said: “Hardened criminal gangs, involved in some of the most serious and heinous crimes, use the production and sale of cannabis as a fundamental part of their criminal enterprises.

“I understand that people have varying views on cannabis, but I would urge people who view it as ‘just a bag of weed’ to think twice about the wider implications and the exploitation and violence that is undeniably linked to the cultivation of cannabis.

“Cannabis farms also place innocent members of the public at risk.

“The amount of energy required for a cannabis farm means the criminals bypass the electricity supply to avoid paying for it.

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