MORE than 400 cannabis plants were discovered when police officers raided a quiet cul-de-sac in South Woodham Ferrers on Sunday.
The haul, which has an estimated street value of £500,000, was seized by officers and an Asian man found in the house in Middleton Row was arrested.
After the police bashed the door down with a battering ram, they found the house had been converted into a sophisticated network of heat lamps, wired illegally to the mains, to create the ideal conditions for the plants to thrive.
Sergeant John Hallworth of the Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers neighbourhood policing team said: "Often these type of drug factories are found in seemingly normal and quiet residential streets.
"We had received intelligence that there was a man coming and going at odd times and the windows had been papered over.
"These signs led us to believe the house was being used to grow drugs but obviously we didn't know on what scale until we got in there.
"We found around 400 plants in a range of different stages."
Having received intelligence suggesting the property was being used for the production of drugs, Sergeant Hallworth and his team acted just before 5.30pm.
Sergeant Hallworth added: "From receiving information to the actual raid taking place can all happen rather quickly; I'd say this took a matter of weeks.
"We had to be really careful when entering the house because these type of properties could be booby-trapped or all the electrics could be wired in a very dangerous way.
"This property was completely adapted to the production of drugs and this raid was a success in that we've stopped these drugs going out on to the market.
"We didn't expect there to be anyone in the house at the time of the raid but a man was found and subsequently arrested."
The 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of producing Class B drugs and extracting electricity without authority.
He has been released on police bail until July 12 while police inquiries continue.
PC Bill Evans from South Woodham police said: "The house just looks so normal from the outside, which is often the case in these type of things.
"I came to see the property at night once and the whole house was in darkness, except when you looked through the keyhole there was a bright glow.
"The neighbours had no idea anything suspicious was going on, they just thought the house had been recently purchased and someone was coming and going to check on it.
"It shows that these things go on in quiet streets and it's important for people to alert the police to any unusual activity they notice, no matter how small it might be."
Sergeant Hallworth appealed for anyone with any information about the production of drugs to call their local police station on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.