Trainee sniffer dogs uncovered a £1.3 million cannabis factory during a sensory workshop for children - after detecting drugs in the building next door.
The dogs were part of a learning session for children with Special Educational Needs when they stumbled across the cannabis factory in Leicester.
During the workshop, the dogs repeatedly sniffed the wall of an adjoining unit. When the session ended police investigated, and uncovered thousands of cannabis plants in the disused building.
Officers raided the unit and found three men hiding in a storage cupboard along with the crop which covered almost a whole floor.
Renald Dema, 21, Ali Hoxha, 29, and Juljan Jaku, 24, all of no fixed address, were arrested and charged with cultivating cannabis. The three later admitted the charges and on Wednesday Dema was jailed for two years and three months, Hoxha for two years and nine months and Jaku for two-and-half years.
Leicester Crown Court was told police were called by a private security company, who train dogs in drug searches and private protection, in November last year.
The firm had been participating in the workshop for the children when they inadvertently discovered the huge cannabis factory on Thames Street, Leicester.
Detective Inspector Ross Dimmock, from Leicestershire Police, said: “This was a significant discovery which not only led to three people being arrested but also stopped more than a £1 million worth of drugs hitting our streets.
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“Those responsible for this cannabis factory thought their actions would go unnoticed and undiscovered but they were wrong.
“We would like to thank the person reporting the discovery for their assistance and support during the investigation and subsequent leading proceedings.
“Drugs are a plight on society and lead to criminality and the breakdown of relationships and families.
"We take these offences extremely seriously and will do all in our powers to bring people to justice.”
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