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Online cannabis shop goes up in smoke

In the latest dot-com bust, three people have been arrested on suspicion of selling cannabis through a Web site

Three people were arrested on Monday for allegedly running an online cannabis shop.

Two men and one woman, all in their mid-30s and from south-east England, are being interviewed by Police after their houses were raided in a joint effort between the Hertfordshire Constabulary, Sussex Police and National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU).

According to the NHTCU, the suspects managed a secure Web site that was accessed by customers with a username and password. They would place their order on the Web site and the goods would be dispatched by post. Police, who were tracking the site for "months" estimate the Web site generated around £500,000. The Web site has been closed and the suspects' bank accounts frozen.

Detective Superintendent, Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU, said the arrests prove that the dealers will be caught, whether online or offline: "Whether drugs are being sold on a street corner or over the Internet, we are committed to work together in the battle against drug trafficking," he said in a statement.

Investigating officer Matt Cornish from the Hertfordshire Constabulary said he was surprised by the sheer volume of trades made from the Web site: "We believe that this is the first case of its kind in the country, and all the investigation team have been amazed by the amount of activity that these sites have had and the quantity of orders placed via the Internet."