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Huge drug factory network uncovered

The Scotsman, 16th March 2006

A vast network of cannabis factories run by Vietnamese gangs and producing tens of millions of pounds worth of drugs has been uncovered by police.

More than 20 Scotland Yard officers swooped on one of the factories at a terraced house in a quiet residential street in Woodhill, south east London, at dawn.

Officers found around 600 cannabis plants spread across four floors and a total of seven people were arrested in connection with the raid.

Detectives have found a network of hundreds of similar factories operating across London, each capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cannabis a year.

In the 12 months from June 2004 to June last year a total of 255 were identified and closed down by the Metropolitan Police, but officers fear many more are still operating.

Detective Sergeant David Galbraith said the factories were "without doubt" the largest producers of cannabis in London.

Wednesday's raid comes on the day senior officers at Scotland Yard are expected to unveil a new approach to tackling serious and organised crime.

This is expected to involve focusing on criminal networks as opposed to specific crime types.

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