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Drugs den filled empty hotel wing

PUBLISHED: 15:10 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:46 03 July 2010

CANNABIS HAUL: Some of the drugs found at the Waverley Hotel.

CANNABIS HAUL: Some of the drugs found at the Waverley Hotel.

POLICE discovered a massive haul of 1,580 cannabis plants crammed into 30 bedrooms of a Great Yarmouth hotel closed for renovation.

Officers were astonished to find an entire wing of the Waverley Hotel, on Princes Road, had been transformed into a sophisticated drugs factory when they raided the building last week.

CANNABIS: Sgt Tony Blackman, who is leading the investigation into the cannabis haul.

POLICE discovered a massive haul of 1,580 cannabis plants crammed into 30 bedrooms of a Great Yarmouth hotel closed for renovation.

Officers were astonished to find an entire wing of the Waverley Hotel, on Princes Road, had been transformed into a sophisticated drugs factory when they raided the building last week.

Dangerous electrical wiring allowed the operators to siphon electricity illegally from a meter to power high-voltage heat lamps, posing a serious fire hazard. Dark plastic sheeting over the windows and baths in the en-suites had been filled for watering the plants.

More than 200 bags of fertiliser were stacked in the stairwell.

Police also discovered an array of weapons, including three Samurai swords, a machete and an air weapon. Officers also found a golf club, a broken pool cue and a baseball bat, and a Rottweiler dog was taken away by the RSPCA.

Enquiries were continuing this week to find those responsible for the drugs den, believed to be one of the largest drugs factories ever found in Norfolk.

The hotel has been unoccupied since the renovation work was halted in October after a dispute with builders - newly laid carpets and freshly painted rooms have been left in ruins. The hotel's London-based owners have been informed by police.

It is not known how long the factory has been in operation and police have yet to make an arrest.

Sgt Tony Blackman, the officer leading the investigation, said: “We never dreamed it was going to be quite as extensive as it was. I believe it is the most plants ever found in one place in Yarmouth. In 20 years I haven't seen that much fertiliser in one cannabis factory.

“It is unique in that they set up in a hotel. I've never heard of that happening anywhere.”

Sgt Blackman said evidence showed a “gardener” had visited regularly, using one of the rooms, where police found a stash of pornographic magazines and cooking facilities.

“Neighbours knew it was being refurbished and did not expect to see many people coming in and out,” said Sgt Blackman.

“Our neighbourhood teams are being tasked to forge links with people who live in their areas, and this shows it works.”

t Anyone with information should contact Sgt Blackman at Yarmouth police station on 0845 456 4567 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


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