SPECIALIST officers have launched a major crackdown on organised gangs across Hampshire as the war against drugs continues.
The large-scale operation swung into action, with taskforces raiding a string of commercial and residential addresses in Southampton, Totton, Fareham, and Sarisbury Green.
One raid resulted in the discovery of a cannabis factory in Crableck Lane, Sarisbury Green, where officers were confronted with around 100 cannabis plants, which were all seized.
The Daily Echo also understands one of the premises searched as part of the operation – codenamed Operation Buoy – was the Charcoal Grill takeaway in Rumbridge Street, Totton.
As reported, officers with sniffer dogs swooped on Thursday evening and carried out a thorough search of the restaurant and the rooms upstairs.
Investigators could be seen talking to staff inside the restaurant and searching the surrounding grounds.
Witnesses said they saw unmarked police cars and vans race to the building and between 20 and 30 officers descend on the restaurant.
Warrants were also carried out at commercial and residential addresses at four locations in Southampton, along with addresses in Fareham.
A 35-year-old man from Sarisbury Green and a 34-year-old man from Hedge End were both arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis.
They have been bailed until October 20, pending further inquiries.
Documentation was also seized from other addresses as part of the ongoing investigation, but no other arrests were made.
Police confirmed there was a significant presence of officers at each location but added that there was no threat to the public in relation to this operation.
Detective Inspector Mark Chapman, of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, which joined forces with the Daily Echo-backed Operation Fortress, said: “These warrants focused on the disruption of organised crime groups.
“We are working with Hampshire Constabulary’s Operation Fortress team to target those who profit from drugs supply offences and those who launder money through businesses in an attempt to legitimise their profits.
“These offences ultimately result in lives being made a misery and these warrants send out a message that if you commit these offences we will deal with you robustly, pursue you, and bring you to task for them.”
Anyone with concerns about drugs in their area should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.