POLICE stormed a house opposite a primary school that was being used to grow 130 cannabis plants.

Officers broke into the three bedroom house on Usk Road in Aveley on Thursday after being alerted to a strong smell of cannabis by neighbours.

The property had been converted into an illicit factory, kitted out with dozens of lamps, ventilation and reflective walls.

All three bedrooms were being used to grow the class B drug, with dozens of plants all at various phases of growth.

A man returned to the house while police were clearing the evidence. He tried to run off when he saw the police, but was caught down the road.

More than £50,000 worth of cannabis was found in the house.

Police believe it was being grown in regular cycles, producing the drug at an annual rate of about £250,000.

During a relatively covert operation, police the property through a side gate, before smashing the window to a back door to get into the house.

PC Louise White, who led the operation, told the Echo/Gazette: “We gathered intelligence after residents had got in touch with us reporting a very strong smell of cannabis.

Thurrock Gazette:

“We then applied for a warrant and came down here at around 2pm today.

“This was quite a professional set up and in my four years as an officer, it’s the largest amount i’ve come across.”

The location of the unassuming property, opposite Tamar Drive for Kenningtons Primary School, meant the raid was a priority for police.

PC White added: “There are little kiddies walking past outside, so it’s not good for them that this is here. This shows that if members of the community have concerns, we’ll act on them.”

*A man aged 53, from Dagenham, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating a controlled drug. He was later released on police bail.