Gangsters fighting over who should control Britain’s thriving multi-million cannabis empire – and private landlords are suffering in the fall out.
Police are reporting but to let homes and rented industrial units are the targets of arson attacks and burglaries as the gangs battle for supremacy.
Insurers also revealed some properties are suffering thousands of pounds of damage from growing cannabis as criminals divert water and electricity supplies and knock walls down to make more space for their plants.
Crime figures disclose seizures of home-grown skunk cannabis have surged upwards in recent years – along with shootings, arson and robberies as the gangs war over the lucrative trade.
Recently, say police, the balance of power has started to shift from Vietnamese and South-east Asian crooks who have run the drugs trade for some years to rival British gangs.
Police are warning the gangs are looking for rented homes outside cities to grow cannabis.
In the North West alone, police have closed down more than 5,000 cannabis factories and seized at least 350,000 cannabis plants under cultivation with a street value of £350 million in the past 36 months.
Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police have seized 5,000 cannabis plants – including one huge drugs farm in a country mansion with 31 rooms converted to grow crops of skunk.
Humberside Police have seized more than 14,000 plants and South Yorkshire Police nearly 30,000 plants.
Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police drugs co-ordinator, warned the drugs war is major concern for police in the Yorkshire Post.
“We have seen in the past intrinsic links between south east Asian organised crime gangs, particularly Vietnamese, with links with people trafficking. Now many indigenous organised crime groups are coming through,” he said.
“Gangs involved in Class A distribution are diversifying into cannabis cultivation. The cannabis market is massive.
“We are alert to the fact of what has happened in Merseyside, where drugs related shootings have increased by a third, but we also think the mechanisms we have got in place have lessened the impact on communities.”