A CANNABIS growing ring across Essex and east London was today hit as ten people were arrested in a series of eight morning raids.
It was part of an investigation by Essex Police into organised crime groups exploiting vulnerable people by forcing them to grow and guard cannabis crops.
Warrants were carried out by the force's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit in St John’s Road, Clacton, Whernside Avenue, Canvey and at Duckett Street in...... and Caspian Walk, Canning Town, both in east London.
SEIZED: Cannabis plants found growing at one of the locations (Essex Police)
An Essex Police spokesman said: "Throughout the course of this investigation, a total of five victims have been safeguarded.
"At a separate address in Melbourne Road, Clacton, officers secured a cannabis grow spread across three bedrooms in the upper floor of a house.
SEARCH: An officer looks through a cupboard and boxes at one of the properties. (Essex Police)
"It’s estimated that more than 100 plants were recovered from the address, which would reach an estimated four-figure sum once distributed.
"After attending a unit in River Road, Barking, this morning, we also discovered between 400 and 500 cannabis plants, in stages from saplings to fully mature plants.
"In three open plan offices at the top of the unit, we recovered Class A drugs, two Tasers and three CS gas canisters.
"Those arrested remain in custody on suspicion of various offences. "
A 33-year-old man from Clacton and a 36-year-old man from Canning Town were arrested on suspicion of committing a modern slavery offence, arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploit, being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug, cultivation of cannabis and extracting electricity.
Two Canvey men, aged 37 and 41, were arrested on suspicion of the same offences, except being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug.
BAGGED: Cash stuffed in a sock and pant drawer (Essex Police)
They were instead arrested on suspicion of being involved in a conspiracy to supply a controlled drug.
Two women from East London, aged 19 and 63, were arrested on suspicion of committing a modern slavery offence, human trafficking and being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
A 16-year-old boy and a 42-year-old man from the same area were also arrested on suspicion of these offences.
Two men from Stapleford Abbotts, aged 32 and 56, were arrested on suspicion of possession of firearms offences.
The 32-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs, and the 56-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
Police were joined by charity partners in Justice & Care, who provide people to identify and safeguard victims of modern slavery.