Potential Victims of Modern Slavery Safeguarded as Cannabis Farms Seized
Main article content
Two potential victims of modern slavery have been safeguarded as cannabis farms believed to be worth over £360,000 were seized in Middlesbrough yesterday, Thursday 11th January.
Officers from the Proactive Team and Neighbourhood Team acted after Middlesbrough Council colleagues reported a suspicious smell and police were able to identify the location of one farm in an industrial unit on Lorne Street.
A male aged in his thirties, who is being treated as a victim of modern slavery, was located inside the premises and was safeguarded and taken to hospital to be checked over.
212 cannabis plants were located in the property, with an estimated value of £178,000.
A second cannabis farm was shortly afterwards located at another industrial unit on Greta Street, where officers forced entry and found a second male inside, aged in his forties, who is again being treated as a victim and is being safeguarded and supported by officers.
225 plants were located within the unit, with an estimated value of £189,000.
The immediate modern day slavery safeguarding and ongoing investigation to establish the circumstances and identify those responsible is being carried out by specialist officers in the Complex Exploitation Team at Cleveland Police.
Sergeant John Sproson from the Proactive Team said: “This highlights the impact that cannabis cultivation has in relation to modern day slavery and the funding of organised crime.
“Those who do take advantage of others for organised criminality can expect to be brought to justice.
“We would continue to urge anyone with information or suspicions regarding drug activity in their area, to contact Cleveland Police or Crimestoppers.”
Councillor Janet Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Community Safety, said: “This is another great example of our officers on the ground working in partnership with police counterparts to root out crime and antisocial behaviour and protect the vulnerable.
“Modern day slavery is inextricably linked to organised crime and the drugs trade, and neither have any place in our communities.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact Cleveland Police on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555 111.
Those who may have information regarding potential victims of modern day slavery or exploitation, can also call the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation helpline on 08000 121 700.