Illegal cannabis plantations becoming more advanced, better hidden

Police officer holding a cannabis plant
Police officer holding a cannabis plantPhoto: Politie

Drug criminals are getting better and better at hiding their illegal cannabis plantations, according to grid manager Stedin whose been working with the police on discovering such illegal farms. Last year around a thousand illegal cannabis farms were found in three major cities, 22 percent less than the year before. But Stedin is certain that the number of cannabis farms is on the rise, AD reports.

"Organized crime is become more and more innovative in hiding cannabis farms", Barthjeu Ammerlaan, manager of the fraud department at Stedin, said to AD. "Deeply hidden away in cellars of houses with masked ventilation is where you can find these hard to find plantations."

According to Stedin, there is a national trend in which fewer and fewer cannabis plantations are found. But that does not mean that there are fewer plantations, only that they're better hidden. And these plantations can cause very dangerous situations. "This is due to messing with electricity, and the theft of large amounts of power. As a result, the risk of overheating, short circuit and fire is high."

Stedin is mainly active in the regions of Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. In some cases the grid manager can locate a cannabis farm through the energy network. The company stressed the necessity of municipalities, police and grid managers to continue working intensively together in order to find and dismantle illegal cannabis plantations. 

Netbeheer Nederland, the umbrella organization for grid mangers, also calls for more priority to be given to this crime. According to Netbeheer Nederland, there are around 30 thousand cannabis farms in the Netherlands that steal nearly 1 billion kWh of electricity each year. This amounts to roughly 200 million euros in damages to society.