Police found something big, but it sure wasn’t bamboo, when they raided the former Big Bamboo nightclub in West Midlands, U.K. and found the joint was jumping with 1,000 cannabis plants worth more than £1 million ($1.7 million).

Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) didn’t bother to knock during the Oct. 15 raid, opting to smash through several reinforced doors in order to access the massive indoor grow-op over all three floors of the building.

Beyond the plants, the sophisticated operation featured about £150,000 ($257,000) worth of planting, growing and irrigation equipment, notes a statement from the NCA. Both the plants and equipment were seized.

Three men — two of whom tried to flee the scene, but were tracked down by the West Midlands Police (WMP) drone unit using state-of-the art equipment with thermal imaging cameras — were ultimately arrested.

Former Big Bamboo nightclub found to be playing host to about 1,000 cannabis plants. / Photo: National Crime Agency

“It’s always great when we can help out a partner agency. Our job is to protect the public and drones are invaluable to us,” adds Chief Superintendent Lee Wharmby of the WMP.

The NCA investigation is continuing.

Andi Qani, 24, Cao Van Vu, 31, and Adrian Lieshaj, 28, have all been charged with producing a Class B drug, which includes weed. The first two men will make their next court appearance Nov. 12, and the third man, who is wanted by German authorities, is awaiting a hearing on an extradition matter.

former Big Bamboo nightclub in West Midlands, U.K. The approximately 1,000 marijuana plants found inside club worth more than £1 million ($1.7 million). / Photo: National Crime Agency

Supply and production of cannabis can result in as long as 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both upon conviction.

Former sites ranging from churches to pubs, government bunkers and old police stations in the U.K. seem to attract illegal grow-ops, sometimes known to property owners and sometimes not.

For example, about six months ago, the owner of a club in Northampton, U.K. shut down by COVID-19 was more than a bit surprised when he visited the building to take pictures for his insurance company and found a grow-op in the cellar. And it wasn’t some quick-and-dirty grow, but rather was fully equipped with ventilation ducts, heat lamps and tarpaulin sheets.

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