When you think of a bingo hall, I’m going to take a wild guess and say the last thing that springs to mind is a room full of drugs.
A dobber? Sure. A group of rowdy pensioners waiting (im)patiently to hear their numbers shouted out? 100 per cent. Legs eleven? Probably.
Cannabis though? Definitely not, although that’s exactly what police discovered in one abandoned bingo hall yesterday (June 14).
Police found almost £3 million worth of cannabis plants growing in the disused Gala Bingo Hall in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Officers seized 2,000 plants in the hall alongside sophisticated hydroponic cultivation equipment, with the plants taking up every inch of the floor space.
Northamptonshire Police say the operation could have generated around £2.8 million each year, with officers describing it as one of the largest they’ve ever seen. That’s some going, then.
It’s not known how long the bingo hall has been in use for this purpose, although police first became suspicious when officers smelled marijuana coming from the derelict building.
The bingo hall, in Kettering High Street, closed in January but thermal imaging revealed heat sources coming from the building which sparked suspicion.
Around 25 officers, accompanied by dogs, stormed the building at approximately 10:30am yesterday.
PC Colin Gray, from the force’s proactive team, said:
This is a significant find that will disrupt organised crime groups and the distribution of cannabis locally and further afield. It is one of the largest I have seen even when compared to a site we found in Corby earlier this year.
These crime groups blight society by manufacturing and selling controlled drugs in Northamptonshire. We will never stop trying to bring them down and this type of activity will continue.
Nobody was inside the cannabis factory at the time of the bust, however there were clear signs the kitchen of the bingo hall had been in use previously.
In a stroke of pure luck for the police, but not so much for the drug dealers, the cannabis plants were coming of age and were only about three weeks away from harvest and distribution.
No arrests have currently been made.
Police really hit the jackpot there then, didn’t they?
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).