Woman, 82, held in 'cannabis factory' investigation

An 82-year-old woman was among four people arrested in England over an elaborate underground cannabis factory made up of buried cargo containers, police revealed tonight.

An 82-year-old woman was among four people arrested in England over an elaborate underground cannabis factory made up of buried cargo containers, police revealed tonight.

The woman and three men, aged 47, 51 and 58, were held on suspicion of aiding and abetting the production of cannabis and firearms offences.

The arrests follow the discovery by chance last month of the submerged cannabis factory which emerged after emergency services were called to a caravan fire nearby.

An above-ground shipping container led underground where a corridor separated eight identical units containing more than 300 cannabis plants, lighting, heating and insulating materials.

Firefighters were called to reports of a caravan fire and closer inspection led to the discovery of the drugs factory on land near Leigh Water Mill Farm, near Burgess Hill, West Sussex.

A Sussex Police spokesman said the four suspects who were arrested early yesterday in the Ansty and Burgess Hill areas were questioned and freed on bail pending further inquiries.

Searches were carried out at two addresses for further evidence, and tonight police made a second public appeal for information about the sophisticated set-up.

Detective Sergeant John Wallace, leading the investigation, said: “There has been an extremely encouraging response from the public to date, with important evidence coming to light.”

Police said power to the factory appeared to have been provided by a nearby large generator. Officers had to excavate a layer of earth to reveal the containers underground.

Most of the cannabis plants had been cultivated, with their heads and leaves removed, but whole plants were also found. It is believed the factory may have been inactive for some time.

Detectives appealed to anyone in the local area who may have been involved in supplying materials such as cargo containers without knowing their purpose to come forward.

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