Cannabis farms worth £6.5m have been uncovered by Merseyside Police during a month-long crackdown on organised crime.

In a co-ordinated campaign led by the force's Matrix Serious Organised Crime, officers from across Wirral, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Knowsley seized 6,500 plants and dismantled 84 cannabis farms.

More than 160 people have been arrested in connection with growing cannabis and cash totalling £111,000 seized from them.

The crackdown aimed to damage organised crime networks by seizing drugs they were growing to fund other criminal activities such buying Class A drugs and firearms.

Superintendent Dave Charnock from MSOC said the results showed what could be achieved when the public shared information with the police about drugs in their communities.

He said: "To have seized 6,500 plants capable of producing £6.5m of drugs is a significant result for the police and the law-abiding members of the public that we serve against organised crime.

"This is £6.5m that will not be lining criminals' pockets at the expense of the public just so that criminals can get richer and commit more crime.

"Cannabis is an extremely damaging but profitable drug and the existance of cannabis farms in our communities has led to violence on our streets between rival gangs.

"Thanks to the public's help we have uncovered almost one hundred farms and arrested 167

Substantial farms include:

• A 200-plant farm in Pensby, Wirral in which £17,000 cash was also seized and a 50-year-old man arrested on suspicion of cannabis cultivation and money laundering.

• Two separate cannabis farms above takeaways in St Helens - one containing 418 plants in Sutton Road and the other containing 600 plants in Dentons Green.

• A 500-plant farm at a house in Coronation Road in Crosby, Sefton. A 22-year-old man was arrested and charged.

• 200 plants hidden in an underground cellar in Vauxhall, along with stolen car parts.

• Two houses in Briardale Road, Allerton, containing more than 200 plants plus tablets believed to be Ecstasy.

• Several dozen large mature plants found at an expensive property in Tower Hill, Kirkby.

The majority of the 84 farms were destroyed by the force's specialist cannabis dismantling team.

Other items seized included CS spray, mixing agent for Class A drugs, imitation firearms, knives, a crossbow, stolen motorbikes and hidden cash.

Superintendent Charnock added: "The range in size and scale of some of these farms has been vast and it is clear that they have been set up by people who are highly organised and know what they are doing.

"Many of the larger set-ups have been very sophisticated, with expensive lighting and irrigation systems to replicate the hot, humid conditions these plants need to grow.

"Officers and support staff have worked tirelessly to achieve these excellent results often in difficult conditions and it has been reassuring to have so much support from the public who have given us the information we need.

"I am sure these results will show the people of Merseyide just what we can achieve when we work together to stop drug dealing and drug supply blighting our communities."