A Leyland landlord has revealed what happened when police uncovered a secret cannabis farm at one of his properties.
Peter Chandler, who owns Chandler Business Park, off Golden Hill Lane in Leyland, has spoken of his shock when police raided a number of storage units on his industrial estate last night (August 28).
The well-respected local businessman said he was called down to his estate in Talbot Road after police arrived with a drugs warrant for one of his storage units at 7.30pm.
Police told the 71-year-old that they had received an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public who suspected a cannabis farm was in operation at his site.
When the businessman arrived at the site, officers had already begun the process of forcing entry into the industrial unit.
"By the time I got there, the place was already swarming with police.
"There must have been at least 10 police cars, as well as the fire service, and they were forcing open the shutters on one of my units.
"I was shocked when they told me they suspected a cannabis farm was inside."
Mr Chandler said other tenants had mentioned a "funny smell wafting around the place", but he was not prepared for what police would find inside.
"When police opened up the shutters, I couldn't believe it.
"Every inch of the unit had been taken up with plants. Hundreds of them.
"There were lights rigged up everywhere and fans and all kinds of fancy-looking equipment.
"It looked like a very sophisticated set up. They obviously knew what they were doing. They must have been making a fortune."
Mr Chandler said his unit, which measures 50ft x 80ft, had been partitioned into a number of smaller rooms, each with cannabis plants at various stages of growth.
But what startled him the most was the discovery that members of the drug gang appeared to have been living in the unit the whole time.
He said: "We found mattresses and sleeping bags in one of the rooms, which had been curtained off from the others.
"There were packets of food with what looks like Chinese writing on them and a microwave. They'd obviously been sleeping there right under our noses.
"It looks like there were at least two of them living there. But they'd done a runner by the time police had come.
"I imagine they're long gone now. Good riddance to them."
But Mr Chandler said it remains a mystery how the drug gang operated.
"We just don't understand how they moved all that stuff in without anyone noticing, or how they moved the drugs out.
"We have CCTV and we've not seen anything or anyone coming or going from the place.
"They must have done it under the cover of darkness, but the place is locked after dark, so it wouldn't have been a simple thing to do.
He said the unit had been taken over by long-term tenant Ultra Storage in December last year, after an IT consultancy firm vacated the premises.
Ultra Storage, who rent a number of neighbouring units, are understood to have then sublet the unit.
The storage firm are not under any suspicion and the proprietor told the Post that he was unaware of any illegal activity taking place in the unit.
Mr Chandler added: "There was a bit of a funny smell wafting around the place, but the rent was paid on time every month and we never had any problems, so I didn't think much of it.
"The storage firm must have sublet the space without realising what it was going to be used for.
"And tenants have been complaining about electricity bills going up.
"I have one tenant who said his electricity bill shot up from £150 a month to over £500!
"I've not been able to have a good look at the electrics, but I expect the supply has been bypassed."
This afternoon, hungry officers tasked with clearing the cannabis farm shared a picture of the team enjoying a lunch of burgers and chicken nuggets courtesy of a local McDonald's.