Drug factories probe: Arrests

When officers swooped on an address in Shaw Road, 290 plants were found and Gouqing Zhang (below) was deported for his role in cultivating them.

When officers swooped on an address in Shaw Road, 290 plants were found and Gouqing Zhang (below) was deported for his role in cultivating them.

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DETECTIVES investigating a trio of Blackpool cannabis factories have made a string of arrests.

Four men and three women are currently being quizzed by detectives as part of what officers have described as a “complex and on-going investigation”.

Gouqing Zhang

Gouqing Zhang

The investigation is focusing on properties purchased across the north of England which police believe have been used to grow large amounts of cannabis, including three addresses in Blackpool.

All three properties were raided by officers back in 2011, and hundreds of plants discovered.

On January 10 290 plants - worth an estimated £14,500 - were discovered in the Glendene Hotel on Kirby Road, in South Shore, and less than a month later officers discovered 215 plants when they raided a property on Reads Avenue, in the town centre.

The final cannabis factory was raided in November 2011, when 290 plants were discovered in a house on Shaw Road, Blackpool.

Chinese national Gouqing Zhang (pictured) has already served 15 months in jail and been deported for his role in cultivating the drugs at the South Shore property

The seven arrests were made on Wednesday after police executed warrants at addresses in Sheffield, Long Eaton and Manchester, taking six Chinese nationals and one British man into custody in connection with cannabis cultivation and money laundering offences.

Det Sgt Steve Colman from Blackpool CID said: “This is a complex and on-going investigation in which further people are being actively sought.”

During the warrants cannabis factories were discovered at addresses in Sheffield and Long Eaton, and several thousands of pounds of cash recovered.

A 23-year-old and 52-year-old man, and a 48-year-old woman, all from Sheffield, a 48-year-old man from Long Eaton, a 68-year-old man and 50-year-old woman from Stockport are all in custody, alongside a 53-year-old woman of no fixed address.

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