Friday, May 22, 2009

The cannabis factories of Cambridgeshire

Here's how it works:

1. It's run as a business by Vietnamese organized crime syndicates. Chased out of Canada by aggressive policing, they've arrived here.

2. They find a nice detached house for rent in the kind of new-build neighbourhood where everyone has two jobs and is out all day; there are no neighbours looking out for each other.

3. They pay cash.

4. They invite in the first of the contractors, electricians who divert electricity from before the meter, feed it upstairs and set up transformers, timers, fans, and 600W lights. Each house uses £19,000 of electicity each year.

5. Next the whole upstairs is lined with polythene

6. Finally the cannabis plants arrive as little cuttings in rockwool, with plenty of compost.

7. They supply the needs for the gardener: a freezer full of meat, herbs and vegetables, a wok, a rice cooker, a TV.

8. In comes the gardener, often someone who has been trafficked. He lives in the bottom of the house. He isn't allowed to leave. Police often find instructions on how to raise the plants in easy Vietnamese steps. The people who trafficked him claim they will send money to his family.

9. The gardener never leaves the house. The downstairs looks normal; the upstairs, curtained off, with plenty of condensation, and a huge fire risk.

10. Cannabis plants are tender and not unlike tomatoes in their general cultivation. Normally they take a season to grow, coming into bud as the days shorten. However in the intensive, carefully planned care of the specialists, a crop can be ready in 10 weeks. Each room will produce about £32K's worth of cannabis (per year? per crop? I can't remember).

11. The cannabis is taken away for processing.

Cambridgeshire police are shutting down approximately one of these factories every week. The gardener gets 1-2 years in jail and is deported; the landlord gets a bill of perhapd £12,000 to rebuild his house. (£1000 for the door the police kicked in; several hundreds or more to be reconnected safely to the grid...)

How to solve the problem?

1. Police forces should talk to each other. Each force is only arresting the 'gardeners'. No-one is going after the serious professionals who run the operation.

2. Cannabis seed, though not seedlings, is legal to buy in the EU. You can apparently download seed catalogues that list the different qualities of each seed. The sees are genetically modified to produce female plants only, the ones that bud.

3. A national strategy could move the organized criminals on, just as happened in Canada. But it isn't happening.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Telegraph chatters
A vote of no confidence
The Speaker, unplugged?

Tracking the sun, the old fashioned way

Solar panels don't move when the sun does, which is a drawback. Ideally you need some technology that moves them around automatically, so that they stay in the sun all day. The answer, as my daughter pointed out, is already to hand. Tie them to a dog:

There is an issue with rolling over, but otherwise, it's promising.