Police were led to a “sophisticated” £150,000 cannabis farm in a South Tyneside flat by a tunnel dug in the basement of the shop next door – where another drugs haul was found just two months ago.
Officers were sparked into action when workers from Northern Powergrid were alerted that the electricity supply had been tampered with in an empty shop in Dean Road on Monday night, a court heard.
The power grid workers called in police after finding a strong stench of cannabis, with officers uncovering a tunnel in the basement of the property, leading directly to the next-door flat, where a 275-plant drugs farm was being housed.
Police stormed into the flat through the tunnel, discovered the huge cannabis farm and arrested a man at the scene.
Vietnamese national Thuan Le appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with production of a Class B drug. The 29-year-old, of no fixed abode, entered no plea to the charge, with magistrates sending the case to Newcastle Crown Court for a hearing on February 17.
Magistrates were told that the cannabis farm in the flat was being heated by the electricity supply in the neighbouring shop, where a 32-plant cannabis farm had been found on November 11.
John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “Northern Powergrid staff entered the property at 8.40pm on Monday following a report that the electricity supply had been bypassed.
“Police attended and discovered a tunnel at the basement of the property at 130 Dean Road, leading to 132 Dean Road.
“Officers entered via the tunnel and found a cannabis farm of 275 plants.
“It was a sophisticated operation using electricity from one property with a tunnel leading to the other.”
Mr McGlone said Le should be remanded in custody due to the seriousness of the charge.
Laura Johnson, defending, did not apply for bail.