15 Aug 2012

Police bust cannabis farm in abandoned metro

5:40 am on 15 August 2012

Police in Italy have found a large cannabis factory in an abandoned metro tunnel close to the Italian central bank's vaults.

Officers raided the 1km tunnel, which was officially being used as a mushroom farm, after detecting the pungent odour of marijuana around its entrance.

Underground passages in Rome are often used for mushroom growing, but the police discovered that this farm was also cultivating rows and rows of marijuana behind a hidden wall.

Italy's financial police say they've confiscated 340 kilograms of cannabis worth about €3 million - one of their biggest ever cannabis busts. The owner of the farm has been arrested, Reuters reports.

Video footage released by the police showed thriving marijuana plants stretching along the last section of the 4000 square metre tunnel, along with stacks of bags filled with cannabis next to weighing and processing equipment.

The tunnel was built as part of a metro network planned by Benito Mussolini in the 1930s, but work was abandoned after Italy joined the second world war in 1940.