AROUND 500 cannabis plants worth £500k have been found in "factories" in two Southampton properties.

Police are investigating after an estimated 500 cannabis plants were found in two properties on Cranbury Avenue and Lyon Street on February 20.

Police believe both "factories" are connected and it is estimated the plants were worth up to £500,000.

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A 38-year-old man from Southampton was later arrested on suspicion of producing a class B drug.

He was questioned by officers and later released to allow for further enquiries, but remains under investigation.

Chief Inspector Phil Lamb said: “We know that a lot people will think, it’s just a bit of weed, but we want to stress that any production of drugs is linked to hidden harm.

"Large scale operations like this are often run by organised crime gangs.

Daily Echo:

"Those gangs are likely to engage in very serious violence involving weapons, such as firearms.

"They may also take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude.

“The electrical requirement to grow this many plants is also really dangerous and can be a huge fire risk, putting neighbouring properties, and lives in danger.

“It is not just a bit of weed, it’s linked to serious criminality.

"That’s why we are really keen to hear from people who suspect there is cannabis cultivation or drug related activity going on their neighbourhood.

“Every call you make to us is logged and helps us build up an intelligence picture about what might be happening in your community. This allows us to take action and prevent your neighbourhoods from harm.”