Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
Source: Chatham This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 Bowes Publishers Limited
Author: Ellwood Shreve
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


A concerted effort to target mid-level marijuana suppliers has been 
successful for Chatham-Kent police officers so far this year, as they have 
seized a larger number of hydroponics growing operations than usual.

The police services board have been told that drug units seized $2 million 
worth of drugs within the last month. But it's not necessarily a sign 
there's more marijuana productionthan in the past -- it may be a shift in 
investigation techniques and growing patterns.

Deputy Chief Carl Herder says the drug unit's focus has shifted from casual 
users to mid-sized dealers. While the casual user isn't being ignored, drug 
investigations are concentrating more on high volume suppliers.

"We have concentrated our efforts on gathering information in regards to 
who's doing the grow houses," he said. "It's our hope that if we can take 
away the supply, the user will be very frustrated and it will be very 
difficult for anyone to get hold of those drugs."

Herder says it there aren't enough statistics to say whether there is an 
increased supply. In fact, he doesn't think there is an increased supply.

"It was always suspected that there is a lot of growing going on," he said. 
"At this point it's very difficult to say there are more, I don't think so."

And over the last few years there have been fewer seizures made outdoors in 
area fields. Herder says with fewer seizures every year in the fields, 
officers believed the growers' efforts were shifting indoors.

"We were getting less and less in the fields, so there was some thought 
that they are growing it somewhere," Herder said.

The success in breaking up hydroponics operations has uncovered one 
alarming statistic. The growers are more likely to be armed.

"In those grow houses, we've seized 20 firearms in thelast three months," 
he said. "I don't think it's a situation where it is less violent."

Police Chief John Kopinak says the number of guns being seized is worrying, 
and easily justifies police plans to increase their efforts in drug 

"Not only the drugs, but what really concerns me are the firearms," he 
said. "I'm glad the board's business plan reflects some additional 
resources in drug enforcement."

Kopinak says public surveys the police service carried out in preparing the 
business plan supports more emphasis on drug enforcement. "The stats show 
that we're going to need them," Kopinak said.
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