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Huge cannabis farm found at Heinz mushroom soup mine in the Westcountry

Police says they will remain on the site into the next week

Police have found a huge cannabis farm hidden – in a vast maze of underground tunnels at a disused quarry once used by Heinz to grow mushrooms for its soup.

The ‘large cannabis factory’ was discovered at Bethel Quarry in Bradford on Avon, Wilts, after a search warrant was executed on Thursday,.

The tunnels form part of a former limestone quarry covering about 10 acres or 40,000 square metres.

Mining stopped at the end of the 19th Century and the tunnels were used by the War Office in 1939 to store naval equipment.

After WW2 the quarry was used by the Heinz company to grow mushrooms for soup.

The quarry tunnels were sold in 2011 and advertised as being supplied with electricity and water.

In 2015 a group of explorers reported that the site had been closed for years, “but recently we found it wide open. Not only open, but the electricity and lights were on.”

One explorer claimed he had been “physically assaulted by some thug wielding a baseball bat, who accused them of breaking in”.

Inspector Nick Mawson of Wiltshire Police said: “Local residents are likely to see police presence at Bethel Quarry and surrounding area as officers carry out searches and gather evidence.

“This work is anticipated to carry on into next week due to the size of the location and safety issues at the site and we appreciate the patience of the community.”

Police are currently waiting for the tunnels to be made safe before they can get a clear idea of the size of the drug operation.

A police press officer said: “We haven’t been able to properly assess it. There is talk that it is potentially bigger than the Chilmark bunker cannabis factory.”

Officers found a vast cannabis farm with 4000 plants growing in the 40-room decommissioned Ministry of Defence bunker, RGHQ Chilmark last year – police called it the largest cannabis factory ever found in Southern England.

Three men were jailed in 2017 after police raided the disused nuclear bunker following a tip-off from dog walkers who noticed and unusual smell.

* Two men were arrested and subsequently charged with the production of cannabis (Class B drug).

Alksander Shyti, 45 and Altin Deda, 39 are due to appear at Swindon Magistrates Court today, Friday.

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