A tip-off from Spanish police has led British officers to dig up over £500,000 of cannabis hidden in underground bunkers
Lincolnshire police spent nine days digging up land at a farm to uncover four underground bunkers filled with drugs.
Officers with drone support and a dog unit searched the farm in Skendleby near the east coast accompanied by officials from the Environment Agency, who were separately investigating illegal waste being stored at the site.
Guardia Civil agents also joined the operation. They had unearthed information about the drugs after raiding an underground tobacco factory near Malaga in February.
Four bunkers made up of shipping containers were found 20ft underground – their entrances concealed within barns. In total 12 shipping containers were used to make up the bunkers and house a large number of cannabis plants. Officers estimate the drugs would have a street value of approximately £580,000.
More than 300 tonnes of illegal waste, a shotgun and six stolen cars were also found. Police also discovered 22 horses and one llama in a poor condition, which were taken away by officers.
Three men, aged 34, 35 and 28 were arrested on suspicion of production of a Class B drug, burglary with intent to steal, animal welfare offences and possible waste offences.
The 34-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of possession of a prohibited firearm and theft of a motor vehicle.
They have been released on bail while the investigation continues.
Detective Superintendent Rick Hatton from Lincolnshire Police said:
“We are extremely grateful to our counterparts in Spain and our partners for assisting with the exploration of this site.
“With the operation being underground we have needed some real specialist support to uncover this activity. Only with the skills of those who joined us from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, the Environment Agency, East Lindsey District Council, RSPCA, Dyno-Rod and the Home Office’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have we been able to get to this point.”
The seven Environment Agency officers attending found approximately 300 tonnes of baled waste, 60 part-dismantled vehicles, used asbestos roofing materials, household rubbish and mixed manufactured wood, plus evidence of six separate areas used to burn waste illegally.
Spanish police say that the illegal waste was piled high over the site of the bunkers to try and hide their location.
Last February, the Economic Crime Group of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Guardia Civil discovered an underground tobacco factory in the town of Monda (Malaga), thought to be first ‘underground’ factory located in Europe. The British-run operation was capable of producing 3,500 cigarettes per hour.
Information uncovered in the raid was passed on to Lincolnshire police.