Brazen criminals are believed to have operated a huge cannabis farm worth £500, 000 just yards from shoppers in a busy town centre.
Specialist officers smashed down the doors of a property in Westgate, Rotherham, this morning as part of the wide-ranging Operation Duxford to target the town's criminal underworld.
They discovered a sophisticated six-room set-up, with an estimated 500 cannabis plants at various stages of growth. They arrested a 26-year-old man and a 15–year-old boy on suspicion of being involved in cannabis production.
Chief Inspector Andy Hogg said these results were "encouraging" but added: "today’s efforts are not dedicated purely to smashing down doors.
“There is a softer side to our approach, whereby officers have been looking to safeguard vulnerable people, offer crime prevention advice to the public and work with partner agencies to offer support services.”
Three teams of plain clothes officers executed a number of search warrants across Rotherham, while uniformed police undertook vehicle stop and checks off Centenary Way.
The day of action is set to continue late into the evening and will see officers targeting a range of issues including people trafficking, home visits to tackle anti-social behaviour, encouraging homeless people to receive help and school visits to warn about the dangers of inappropriate social media use.
There will also be roadside speed checks at Thurcroft and crime prevention stands in Rotherham town centre and Parkgate Retail Park.
Officers from the UK Visa and Immigration Service, HM Revenue and Customs, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions and Rotherham Council have all been involved in the operation.