A DRUGS swoop at an industrial unit in Wivenhoe uncovered more than 170 cannabis plants.

Officers raided the property in The Avenue, opposite the Co-op, following a tip-off from the public.

Police uncovered a professional production line of plants ready to be sold.

Sgt Lou Middleton, who led the raid team, said: “We received the intelligence and followed it up immediately.

“The plants were all being grown in pots in what was a very professional set-up.”

Some of the plants have since been sent for testing and the rest have been destroyed.

Sgt Middleton said: “It was a great result and another operation we have managed to close thanks to the community working with us and us acting on the information.”

Wivenhoe mayor Robert Needham said he was surprised drug suppliers would consider the town as a place to set up a drugs factory.

He said: “I admire the public of Wivenhoe’s spirit for bringing the situation to light and calling it in and very glad information was acted on by the police.

“The decision to take direct action should be commended.”

The raid is the latest in a string of operations carried out since reorganisation of Essex Police in March.

The force has been restructured so neighbourhood policing teams carry out fewer investigations, giving them more time to respond to tip-offs.

Acting Chief Insp Jim White said people using, dealing or supplying drugs would be targeted and officers would do everything they could to clean up the streets of Colchester and the surrounding area.

He said: “Since March 1, in particular, we have been capitalising on our ability to use resources to conduct a rolling programme of raids.

“It is great to have the resources to do these raids and to be able to respond as information develops.’’ Mr White added: “Before, we had information but may not have been able to act immediately. But now we can and can send out the right message to the community and the criminals.” The Wivenhoe raid took place on Tuesday.

A 36-year-old man from London has been arrested on suspicion of a number of drug offences and bailed while investigations continue.