POLICE have smashed 200 cannabis factories in Sheffield in just 12 months - the equivalent of more than one every two days.
Three hundred plants with a street value of £120,000 were discovered in the latest drug den - a terraced house in Darnall.
Police said the discovery was their latest victory in their ‘ongoing battle’ against drugs.
An eagle-eyed member of the public spotted the door had been left open to the house on Main Road, Darnall, and alerted police - who found cannabis growing in every room.
Detective Inspector Bob Chapman, of South Yorkshire’s Police’s intelligence unit, said around one third of all cannabis factories discovered by police were the work of organised crime gangs - often Vietnamese.
“We have dealt with around 200 factories over the last 12 months, which vary in size from a loft-full to a complete house,” he said.
“I must authorise around four search warrants a week for offences involving cannabis, not necessarily factories all the time but for those using the drug too, which in my opinion is on the increase.
“Our seizures are increasing all the time, which shows how seriously we are taking it - but it’s an ongoing battle.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to cannabis because it is linked to other crimes such as anti-social behaviour and gang fall-outs - there is a lot of money changing hands for it.”
Forensics experts were today carefully dismantling and combing the Darnall house in a bid to find the mastermind behind the illegal drug den.
A sophisticated hydroponics system had been installed to water the plants, and a specialist heating, lighting and ventilation system had been rigged up.
Detective Chief Inspector Tom Whiteley said it was ‘a professional set-up’ - and strange for the factory to have been left insecure.
He ordered a full forensic sweep of the house in the hope of finding possible clues to lead detectives to those behind the operation.
Police will also be looking for possible links to other factories discovered across the city.
Police have removed the latest crop from the dismantled factory and made arrangements for the plants to be destroyed - preventing another batch of drugs from reaching the city’s streets.
Det Chf Insp Whiteley said: “A thorough forensic sweep of the house has been carried out.
“Because there was nobody in the house when we found the cannabis factory it presented us with an opportunity to dismantle it piece by piece and look for any shred of forensic evidence.
“A member of the public alerted us to an open door and when we entered we found plants growing from the attic to the basement.
“It’s not how we normally come across these but it is a good opportunity for us to capitalise on this situation and try to establish evidence to lead us to those involved.”