£400,000 cannabis factory found hidden in huge haystack

The factory was found concealed behind a bays of hay at a farm (Picture: SWNS)

A £1 million cannabis factory with more than 400 plants has been found hidden behind tonnes of bales of hay.

Officers used a tractor to uncover the three secret barns which were elaborately disguised to make it look like a regular working farm.
Pictures show the lengths the pair went to conceal the crops, which had an estimated street value of £432,000.Ian Locke, 63, and Martin Young, 51, were arrested after officers raided Brackenhurst Farm in Newchurch, near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire in March 2015.

But Nicholas Tatlow, prosecuting, said there were plans to extend the farm, which would have made it capable of producing £1 million of cannabis.

Officers found £400,000 worth of cannabis (Picture: SWNS)
The men behind the operation were looking to extend the factory (Picture: SWNS)

Investigators found the factory had been operating for at least two years until it was uncovered.

Forensic scientists estimated that the plants seized had the capacity to produce 60.5kg of ‘skunk’ cannabis a year.
He said: ‘A tractor was needed to remove the bales to reveal the entrance to the numerous growing and drying rooms.Tatlow added ‘considerable effort’ had been made in setting up the factory and anyone visiting the farm would not have been suspicious.

‘It was a professional operation designed to create significant profits.’

Locke was jailed for two years and three months, while Young was handed a three year and two month sentence at Stafford Crown Court on Thursday.

Three barns were found among the bales (Picture: SWNS)ad_230805867.jpg
The factory produced 60.5kg a year (Picture: SWNS)
The farm in Telford was being rented (Picture: SWNS)

A third man, Raymond Nicholls, 64, of Birmingham, was also arrested and pleaded guilty to the same offence. He was released on bail due to a health condition and will be sentenced at a future date.

Young had been the tenant at the farm since 2009 paying £28,000 a year rent and was running a business breeding shire horses, the court heard.
After the case, Chief Inspector Rob Neeson, from Staffordshire Police, said: ‘A cannabis factory of this scale and sophistication is very unusual.Locke and Nicholls had rooms at the farm house and all three men were at the property at the time of the police raid in 2015.

‘Considerable effort had gone into the set-up of this factory, with carefully constructed rooms incorporating hydroponic systems surrounded by hay bales so that anyone visiting the farm wouldn’t have suspected a thing.

‘There were also rooms containing seedlings, young plants and fully grown plants ready for harvest, with additional rooms for drying the vegetation and preparation areas for producing ‘skunk’ and weighing out deals.’

Ian Locke was jailed for two years and three months 
Martin Young was jailed for three years and two months 


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