Police officers have seized over £250,000 worth of cannabis plants after uncovering three illegal farms in Andover.

Andover’s Neighbourhood Policing Team carried out a warrant on King George Road on February 26, followed by two further raids at May Tree Road and Silver Birch Road on March 1.

All three cannabis farms are thought to be linked, with two men arrested during the searches.

Police first targeted an address in King George Road by carrying out a warrant on Friday, February 26. Inside, they seized around 90 cannabis plants and hydroponic growing equipment.

A 21-year-old man was found at the house, and was arrested on suspicion of a drug production offence. He has since been released from custody but remains under investigation by Hampshire Constabulary.

Following the weekend, two further warrants were carried out in Andover, one at May Tree Road, and another at Silver Birch Road. 100 fully grown plants were found at the former property, and 50 at the latter.

A 31-year-old man from Essex was found in the house in Silver Birch Road and was arrested on suspicion of a drug production offence. He had now been released without charge after an investigation, but remains detained under immigration powers.

All three houses are thought to be linked, with enquiries continuing into the farms.

Following enquiries, he will face no further action in relation to this investigation but remains detained under immigration powers in accordance with published processes.

Test Valley Inspector Chris Taylor said: “Production of cannabis on this scale is often linked to organised crime gangs and hidden harm.

“Those gangs may take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude in squalid conditions.

“Not only is there a human cost, but there is also a financial cost to the landlords due to the extensive damage caused in setting up these cannabis factories.

“Often holes have been cut in walls, structural chimney stacks have been compromised, floors and carpets have been flooded and main electricity boxes tampered with causing huge fire risks.

“That’s why we are keen to hear from people who suspect there is cannabis cultivation or drug related activity going on in their neighbourhood. Every call you make to us is logged and helps us build an intelligence picture of what might be happening in your neighbourhood.

“During lockdown, landlords may not be checking their properties as often. We would urge them to do this, and to report any suspicious activity at their properties as soon as possible so that we can take action.”

Hampshire Constabulary encourages members of the public to be vigilant for the signs of cannabis production. Signs include a strong, sickly smell, which police say is the most common way that cannabis farms are discovered.

Another ways of identifying a cannabis farm include high levels of condensation, a lack of snow on roofs, and even lots of birds sitting on a house, which are all caused by the amount of heat produced by cannabis production.

Constantly drawn curtains, continuous ventilation and excessive power cables are also signs of drug production.

Officers encourage those with suspicions of cannabis production to report it to them on 101. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information