A cannabis farm worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been discovered inside an old church in a Gateshead village.
Northumbria Police found the large-scale drugs farm in the Robert Young Memorial Church, on Main Road, in Crawcrook, following a tip-off.
Officers entered the empty building on Thursday 23 June where 350 plants, worth an estimated £350,000, were growing.
Searches revealed a false floor had been built and the electricity had been bypassed.
The farm was dismantled and an investigation launched as part of Operation Sentinel, the force’s flagship initiative tackling serious and organised crime.
Speaking about the activity, Neighbourhood Inspector Alan Davison said: “As a force, we take this type of criminality very seriously.
“We know that members of the public have differing views on cannabis, but the reality is that a farm of this size will turn a significant profit which will then be reinvested into further illicit activity such as trafficking, by organised criminals, who have little to no concern for the ripple effects their behaviour causes our communities."
He continued: “No one wants this type of activity on their doorstep as it presents a host of other issues – surprisingly cannabis farmers do not make good neighbours.
"Anyone living near an operation like this can expect to see a rise in anti-social-behaviour, theft and even violence.
“Many cannabis farms, such as this one, also bypass their electricity – creating a dangerous fire hazard. No-one wants to live near that which is why we are committed to tackling this type of criminality."
Northumbria Police is urging anyone with information or anyone who suspects someone to be involved in drugs supply their area to contact 101.
In an emergency, or if a crime is taking place, always ring 999.
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