Police discovered nearly £100,000 worth of cannabis plants hidden inside a South Shields flat while chasing a suspect.
On Thursday, officers from Northumbria Police’s firearms support unit were chasing a driver, believed to be unrelated to the cannabis farm, when he abandoned his car and ran down Lemon Street, in the West Harton area.
While attempting to follow the suspect, they instead uncovered a farm inside one of the buildings on the street, containing around 150 mature plants.
A police spokesperson said the crop is believed to be worth as much as £99,000.
A 31-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were subsequently arrested on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis. They have since been released under investigation and the farm has been dismantled and the plants destroyed.
Chief Inspector Sam Rennison said: “Our officers were led right to this discovery after their tireless pursuit of a suspect.
“Because of their good old-fashioned police work, a farm which could be worth up to £99,000 has now been dismantled and any future profits prevented from lining the pockets of criminals.
“We know members of the public have differing views on cannabis use but these farms often have links to serious and organised crime, preying on our most vulnerable.
“These farms can also be potentially fatal for those living in neighbouring properties due to their precarious electrical systems.
“We will continue to work with our partners to tackle this kind of criminality under the banner of Operation Sentinel and our officers will now carry out a thorough investigation into this.”
An investigation is also ongoing to trace the driver of the Audi involved in the car chase, which was abandoned in Lemon Street.