THREE cannabis farms with a total estimated street value of more than £300,000 have been uncovered by police.

Officers raided the properties in Durham, Gateshead and Newcastle after reports of suspicious activity at the addresses.

On Thursday, the first property on Dean Terrace in the Ryton area of Gateshead was searched by neighbourhood officers.

When they were inside the property they found hoards of electric equipment used to harvest cannabis plants.

But they also found more than 300 cannabis plants in the loft of the address, which have an estimated street value of more than £100,000.

Officers also executed two further warrants in Fenham and Poplar Street in Durham where a further 400 plants were found.

Five people have also been arrested across the three farms.

Inspector Ronnie Lowes, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a significant sized farm that would have yielded a large amount of cannabis that would eventually make its way onto the street.

“We know that people have strong views on the legality of cannabis but a farm of this size is evidence of serious and organised criminality.

“This is not the case of people growing cannabis for personal use. With this level of criminality comes a whole host of other offences that have a serious impact on our local communities.

“Our priority is to make our region a safer place to live and operations such of this should reassure residents that we are working hard to do just that.”

Members of the public can report suspicious behaviour by calling police on 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.