A MASSIVE cannabis farm found at a disused mill in Great Lever is even bigger than police first thought — and has now been valued at £1.5 million.

Police swooped on disused premises in Grecian Mill on Tuesday morning after receiving information from a nearby resident, who alerted them after noticing the distinctive pungent smell in the area.

Inside they found more than 700 cannabis plants, before a wider search of the area uncovered a second huge farm, complete with living quarters, showers and cooking facilities, containing about 2,000 plants spread across several rooms.

Police from the Bolton drugs squad said it was the biggest operation they have ever come across.

They have now confirmed that 2,737 cannabis plants were seized from Lever Street, along with "a significant quantity" of harvested cannabis.

The plants are typically worth between £400 and £500, giving a total value of nearly £1.5 million.

With the plants cropped four times per year, the growers could have made £6 million from the huge operation in just 12 months, police said.

Three men, aged 29, 48 and 58, and a 47-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis.

They were last night still in police custody for questioning.

PC Graeme Sharp said: "It was an absolutely massive find. On a personal level, it is the most plants I have ever seen.

"It must be the biggest for many, many years in Bolton.

"There was certainly evidence of people living on site.

"It is certainly the most sophisticated operation we have come across."

The landlord of both buildings affected came to the scene to help police with enquiries.

It is thought the growers had illegally gained access to the buildings to set up the operation.

In addition to the huge number of plants, equipment needed to grow the drugs was found in huge quantities, including a large amount of soil at the second location.

Police said they will be investigating over the coming days to see if the growers are running even more farms.

Det Sgt Martin Ashurst said: "Tackling the production, sale and supply of drugs on our streets remains an important issue for us in Bolton, as we know that drug-related activity is a blight on our communities and is something we will simply not tolerate."

Anyone with any information about drug-related crime in Bolton is asked to call the police on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

  • A hamster was rescued from the cannabis farm. Read more about this here.