A PRUDHOE MAN has pleaded guilty to the production of Class B drugs with an estimated street value of £437,500.

Thanh Truong, 59, of West Road, Prudhoe, appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, April 20,  where he admitted his plea after an 'overwhelming' amount of evidence was submitted on the case.

Thanh was arrested on April 19 after the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), with the support of Northumbria Police, raided the premises of a disused social club on West Road.

Officers found  650 cannabis plants covering all three floors, which has a street value of £437,500

The sophisticated farm required staff from Northern Power Grid to rectify the complex electrical setup that had also been compromised.

Truong was arrested at the scene and subsequently charged with the production of Class B drugs. 

He has now been remanded into custody and is awaiting sentencing on May 20.

NEROCU Detective Sergeant Andrea Smith reaffirmed the commitment to tackling illegal drug supply across the region.

She said: "This farm had the potential to generate hundreds and thousands of pounds in criminal cash, which we know is often then invested in wider organised crime such as Class A drug supply, firearms, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation.

“This has been the result of an excellent partnership effort from the NEROCU, along with local neighbourhood officers and the Serious Violence Team from Northumbria Police and trained search teams.

“It shows the commitment to tackling and disrupting Serious and Organised Crime in the region, something which will continue under the banner of Operation Sentinel.”

Detective Inspector Jude Scott, of Northumbria Police, said: “We’re always happy to support our partners at the NEROCU so we can tackle this form of criminality together.

“A farm of this size would turn a significant profit and then be likely reinvested into further criminal activity and, thanks to our joint efforts, that will no longer be possible.

“Those involved in this type of behaviour have no consideration for the repercussions of their actions on the community.”

NEROCU DS Smith added: "We'd ask members of the public to remain vigilant and help be our eyes and ears as we root out this type of criminality. If you see anything suspicious in your community, please let your local police know.”

Anyone with concerns about suspected criminality in their community is encouraged to contact local police or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.