Police vigil at Doncaster pub after £1.5 million drugs factory found
Police were maintaining a constant vigil in the drizzle today as officers dismantled one of the biggest drugs factories they have seen in Doncaster.
A South Yorkshire Police scenes of crime van was parked outside the back door of the Harlequin pub on King Edward Road, which is now largely hidden from view by tall wooden hoardings.
Officers also sat outside the pub in an unmarked car as work went on inside.
This morning, the smell of cannabis was recognisable from the street outside.
It is understood officers were called to the pub after checks had been made on the building by an electricity company. Inside drugs were found which officers have estimated as having a street value of between £1 million and £1.5 million.
No arrests have yet been made and police are appealing for information.
Up until a few months ago, the Harlequin was still in use as a local pub by drinkers on King Edward Road, Thorne, said residents.
But since it closed, tall chipboard hoardings were erected, concealing the inside from view.
Residents said since it closed, there had been concern locally about anti-social behaviour. But three people who spoke to the Free Press were surprised to hear it had been used as a drugs farm.
“You used to see people breaking in,” said one nearby resident. “Then we saw someone putting boards up outside the building.
“But to hear that it was being used as a drugs factory comes as a big surprise.
“People used to see cars coming in and out, but there was also antisocial behaviour.
“There had been rumours locally that it was going to be domolished and hve houses built there. There had also been rumours they would redo the whole pub. We certainly never expected this.
“There were more problems there after it had closed than when it was running as a pub.
“There seemed to be be police there for the whole night last night.”
The Doncaster East neighbourhood policing team said: “The team and local colleagues have finished the evidential process at the cannabis factory discovered in Thorne.
“They have now cleared the premises of 1,500 plus mature cannabis plants, over 300 heat bulbs, transformers and associated electrical systems.
“This is a significant haul with a street value over £1 million taken out of circulation and prevented from hitting our streets.”
Temporary Inspector Andy Coulter said: “This is a significant drugs seizure and some excellent work by our officers here in Doncaster to keep the public safe. “Drug-related criminality has a massive impact on communities and can be associated with violence and organised crime.
“A seizure of this size is a significant disruption and work is now ongoing to try and identify those individuals who may have been involved in the production of this illegal substance.”
Tackling organised criminality is a priority for South Yorkshire Police in Doncaster, with a number of offenders now behind bars.
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident 200 of December 9 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Police have appealed for anyone with information to call them on 101 quoting incident number 200 of December 9, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.