A CANNABIS factory in Hampshire worth £6m a year has been shut down by police after they discovered tons of compost was being delivered to it.
Police descended on a farm after receiving reports of 'excess' compost being delivered and discovered thousands of plants which are believed to have had a street value of around £1.5 million.
Stunned officers found rows and rows of plants being carefully grown in barns at the farm, which was protected by guard dogs, on the outskirts of the sleepy village of Kingsclere, Hampshire, this week.
They also discovered two crossbows in one of the three barns being used to grow and dry the class B drug.
The pretty village, which is home to around 3,000 people, is believed to date back to at least 866 AD and was owned by King Alfred, who left it to his second daughter Ethelgiva when he died.
Dozens of officers began the huge operation on Monday, shutting down the factory and arresting five men before beginning work to cut down the plants.
A source said: ‘It's a record find in Hampshire.
‘It's taken days to clear all the plants. There was £1.5m worth of cannabis there, the farm was worth about £6 million a year.’
Hampshire police constable Simon Denton, who was part of the drugs raid, said: ‘This is an industrial cannabis farm on a massive scale.
‘We had gained intelligence on the property after we had been told about an excess amount of compost being delivered to the property, which is not necessarily cause for concern for a farm.
‘However, we soon heard that part of the property had been closed off behind a gate, which was being guarded by dogs, which raises a few flags.’
And Sergeant Carl Holmes, who oversaw the raid, said: ‘This is the biggest cannabis farm I have ever seen during a bust.
‘When you get intelligence, you get a hunch of what to expect, but I don’t think any of the officers here today expected anything on this scale.’
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said five men had been arrested after the raid on a farm in Union Lane, Kingsclere.
Officers arrested a 56-year-old of Kingsclere, a 48-year-old of Thatcham, Berks, a 47-year-old, of Reading, Berks, and a 29-year-old, of Nebury, Berks.
A 20-year-old man, of Manor Park, east London, was also arrested.
The spokeswoman said all five had been released under investigation, adding: ‘All were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cannabis.’
More than 100 buildings in the village, which is designated a conservation area, have been listed by Historic England because they are of special, architectural or historic interest.