FIVE people have been arrested after raids at businesses and homes across Merseyside - including one in St Helens - suspected of supplying cannabis growing equipment.
Officers from Merseyside Police’s drugs squad executed warrants at eight addresses across Fazakerley, Clubmoor, Everton, Birkenhead, Kirkby, St Helens and Liverpool at around 8am today (Thursday).
Four men in their 30s and 40s and a woman in her 40s were held by police on suspicion of cannabis cultivation, supplying the drug and inciting its cultivation.
Officers also seized large numbers of cannabis plants and a significant amount of cash. Police raided a private address in the Haresfinch area of St Helens.
Det Supt Chris Green from the force’s anti gun and gang crime Matrix unit said the operation sent out a clear warning to other businesses profiting from criminal activity.
He said: “This morning has been a success. Our focus has been to target the unscrupulous sellers of cannabis growing equipment who enable large cannabis farms to get set up.
“Our tactics have discovered businesses knowingly selling hydroponic equipment for the purpose of growing illegal drugs. We already know that cannabis farms are run by violent organised crime groups who make millions out of other people’s misery.
“By tackling how they set up these farms in the first place, we are severely disrupting their criminal enterprise and cutting off a source of income.”
Det Supt Green said staff at many of the raided businesses were openly giving out advice to customers on how to grow cannabis.
He added: “Our investigation has found that some hydroponic outlets have been breaking the law by inciting people into growing cannabis. However what is pleasing is that a large number of others have not been doing this. This shows that the vast majority of these types of gardening suppliers are operating legitimately and are not aiding the illegal drugs trade.”
The force’s cannabis dismantling team, criminal assets experts and forensic scientists will remain at the locations during the day to capture further evidence from the scene.