Police have found “thousands” of cannabis plants, valued at more than £1m, in an underground nuclear bunker built during the 1980s.
Six men, aged between 15 and 45, have been arrested following the raid on RGHQ Chilmark in Wiltshire, which was constructed to house and protect government officials and dignitaries in the event of a nuclear attack.
Wiltshire police officers targeted the site, which is disused but still intact and has its nuclear blast doors in place, following a tip-off.
Detective Inspector Paul Franklin said they found a huge operation inside.
“There are approximately 20 rooms in the building, split over two floors, each 200ft long and 70 ft wide,” he said.
“Almost every single room had been converted for the wholesale production of cannabis plants, and there was a large amount of evidence of previous crops. This was an enormous set-up.
“It is almost impossible to work out how many plants are inside, but we are talking thousands rather than hundreds and we would estimate the value of the crop at over £1 million.”
Officers waited outside for people to leave the bunker on Wednesday night, saying the site was all but impossible to enter.
Three men, aged 27, 30 and 45 and from Somerset, were arrested as they left the building, and officers used their keys to enter.
Inside they found several thousand cannabis plants at various stages of growth and three other males, aged 15, 19 and 37, all of no fixed address, believed to be working as gardeners.
The three males found inside the bunker were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production, while those held outside were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production and human trafficking offences.
It is not the first time large hauls of the class B drug have been found in unusual places – or even in a disused nuclear bunker.
In 2015 a man was jailed for two-and-a-half years for growing more than 800 cannabis plants in Drakelow Tunnels, in Worcestershire, a 285,000 sq ft network of tunnels stretching for about three miles.
Last year, police found at least 1,000 cannabis plants at a luxury nine-bedroom country mansion in March, Cambridgeshire.