Eight cannabis factories – each at separate residential addresses across the town which had been rented out – were discovered by officers from the Fortitude Team who worked on the operation from Thursday evening(25/03) through to the end of the weekend.
The addresses were in Exmouth Street, County Road, Pakenham Road, Westcott Place, Belle Vue Road, Alfred Street and Newhall Street.
Six male victims, aged between 19 and 28, who had been trafficked from London to Swindon, were found at nearly all of the addresses and were taken away to be cared for by specialist officers.
Two men, aged 21 and 22, from the London area were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production and human trafficking offences and have been released on conditional bail.
Detective Inspector Angela Shipp, who is leading the investigation, said: “In most of these addresses each room had been converted for the wholesale production of cannabis plants. Men had been trafficked and were being kept in the properties to look after the plants; these victims were rescued and are assisting in this investigation.
“Factories of this scale produce in excess of four million pounds of cannabis in a single year. The damage caused to the properties from these set ups leaves homeowners, who have rented out their houses, with thousands of pounds worth of repairs.
“Fortitude Officers have worked tirelessly, along with other departments and partners, over the past four days to carry out this operation and people in the community will continue to see a police presence in the area over the next few days.
“Human Trafficking for cannabis production is often seen as a hidden crime, but this operation by Wiltshire Police shows that this type of crime occurs within our communities in plain sight and the extent of the impact on vulnerable victims and to the wider local community is appalling.
“My message is clear for those that commit these offences of human trafficking, by preying on vulnerable individuals, and setting up cannabis factories – if you come to Wiltshire to do this, we will find and dismantle these factories and bring you to justice.
“I would urge anyone who is suspicious that there may be cannabis growing in addresses near to where they live to report this to us via 101, our website or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. ”