An organised crime gang in Grimsby ran a £500,000 cannabis farming operation inside a former bank, with a secret hatch to their flat.
The ‘factory’ for weed farming was an empty site on Bethlehem Street that used to be home to a bank before closing down.
Three men were arrested and charged for the operation and faced a four-day trial in court.
During the trial, the court heard that the operation was sophisticated and professional before being discovered by police.
A member of the public reported seeing a suspicious vehicle at the empty site, and checks of the vehicle confirmed that it had been stolen.
Officers found the van and arrested Evaldas Medelis, 29, and Laminonas Navickas, 23, both of no fixed address, who were inside, before uncovering 80 cannabis plants from the back of the van.
This prompted police to check the building, where they found hundreds of plants, some up to 3ft high, and growing equipment.
A disguise hatch leading into the kitchen of a neighbouring flat was also found, where it was clear the suspects were living while growing the cannabis.
A third man, Karolis Rusevicius, 27, was found by officers using forensic evidence, and they traced him to a £600,000 property in Nottinghamshire.
As police rushed into the home to execute a search warrant, Rusevicius was caught in the middle of counting out £20,000 in cash.
A hand gun, ammunition and two large vacuum bags of cannabis were also found at the address.
Medelis and Navickas both admitted to production of cannabis, while another gang member had many more charges to his name.
Karolis Rusevicius, 27, of Mapperley Plains, Nottingham, was found guilty of production, possession and intent to supply cannabis, two counts of possession of criminal property and possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Detective Constable Philip Jacobs led the investigation for Humberside Police, and he called it one of the biggest cannabis setups he’d ever seen.
“I hope this will serve as a warning to other organised crime groups that Humberside is not somewhere where their activities will be tolerated.
“This was a very sophisticated setup – one of the largest I have ever dealt with – and in uncovering it we have prevented them from pocketing more than half a million pounds. We have also taken a gun off the streets.”
The trio are now awaiting sentencing from police for their crimes.
In related news, Humberside Police is looking for four men in relation to three other cannabis farms they found in the region.