Police issue warning about organised crime gangs setting up drug dens in Sheffield

A police warning has been issued about organised crime gangs setting up cannabis factories in Sheffield streets and bringing violence, guns and knives into city neighbourhoods.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 2:10 pm

South Yorkshire Police said cannabis farms and the dangers associated with them are a ‘real problem’ in Sheffield, with lives put at risk on the city’s streets.

The force said crude property modifications, including electricity tampering, puts innocent members of the public living near to drugs dens at risk of fires and explosions.

But gangs raiding cannabis farms or using violence to issue warnings to rivals are also said to pose a real risk to residents, who could be caught in the crossfire.

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South Yorkshire Police are warning about the dangers of organised crime gangs setting up cannabis factories in Sheffield streets

There have been examples in Sheffield of residential homes being mistakenly identified as cannabis farms, with terrified residents met with masked intruders armed with weapons and threatening violence during raids.

DCI Paul Murphy, South Yorkshire Police’s force lead for drugs and a senior investigating officer in the armed crime team, urged Sheffield residents with suspicions about possible cannabis farms on their streets to come forward.

He said information from the public is vital as officers map drug networks in a bid to reduce the amount of cannabis reaching the streets and to identify those at the top of the chains running the gangs.

He said cannabis farms tend to be set up in rented properties as well as industrial premises and that gangs often spread the risk of getting busted by the police or rivals by setting up multiple drug dens at the same time.

DCI Paul Murphy

DCI Murphy said residents passing on information will be protecting themselves, neighbours and their wider community from the serious violence associated with drugs.

“Cannabis cultivation and the associated violence are becoming a real, real problem,” he said.

“Cannabis grows are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to organised crime groups, they are a very valuable commodity so they can therefore attract violence with criminals coming into residential streets, often armed. These grows are very dangerous to the wider public because of the risks they bring.

“The value of a large grow to a rival gang can be significant, which is where the risk of violence comes from.”

He said gangs often use trafficked or other exploited people to grow their cannabis crops.

DCI Murphy has urged residents to look for the signs that a house or industrial unit may have been turned into a drug den.

As well as a noticeable smell of cannabis, he said there may be condensation on windows, letterboxes may be boarded up, properties may have visitors at irregular hours and they may appear unlived in, with gardens left untidy and bins never left out for emptying.

He said work may have been carried out on the street or pavement outside if electricity supplies have been tampered with to bypass meters and keep running costs down.

DCI Murphy said: “It is my absolute number one priority to keep people as safe as possible and one such way is to concentrate on organised crime groups and cannabis grows.

“I need people to tell us where the cannabis grows are. We will always investigate and try to identify those involved. We will act on the information we receive. We are only as good as the information we have.”

Call South Yorkshire Police on 101.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.