opium
Opium hidden in wooden shelves were found by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport in March 2017NCA

Four men have been arrested after police investigating opium smuggling also uncovered a cannabis farm in Newcastle.

The men, aged between 26 and 53, were detained on Thursday (14 September) on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs.

They will also face questions over a cannabis farm discovered in Shield Street, a residential area close to the city centre.

The arrests form part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) operation targeting an organised crime group suspected importing class A drugs worth more than £330,000.

Detectives said the investigation began when 34kg of opium was seized by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport in March of this year.

The drugs had been sent from Iran and were hidden inside a consignment of wooden shelves that were addressed to a property in Wallsend, police said.

On Thursday, NCA officers executed five warrants in the Newcastle and Wallsend areas, one of which was the cannabis farm.

NCA north east operations manager Brian Shaw said: "Drug trafficking fuels violence and exploitation and we are determined to work with law enforcement colleagues to protect the public from that.

"We have recovered further evidence following today's operation, and our investigation continues."