Pubdate: Mon, 06 May 2002
Source: Oakville Beaver (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Oakville Beaver


The concerted efforts by Halton Regional Police to shut down marijuana 
growing operations show no sign of relenting as officers raided yet another 
home last Thursday on Montrose Abbey Drive.

Officers seized 593 marijuana plants with an approximate street value of 
$593,000 plus $36,000 worth of growing equipment. As with other similar 
operations, the hydro meter had been bypassed. No one was home at the time 
of the raid and the investigation continues.

Thursday's seizure came on the heels of April's Operation Green Sweep 2, a 
national 15-day blitz that saw law enforcement agencies from coast to coast 
execute 208 search warrants, resulting in 255 people facing 369 drug charges.

According to the OPP, 122 search warrants were executed in Ontario alone, 
with 125 people charged with a total of 234 drug offences. The majority of 
these were in the Greater Toronto Area, or 905 locations.

In Halton, five residential homes were raided during Green Sweep 2 - three 
in Burlington, two in Oakville - netting police $2.96 million worth of 
marijuana plus another $70,000 worth of dried pot ready to be sold. In all, 
12 people were arrested and 19 drug related charges laid.

Officers found children living in two of the five houses.

In January, Halton Regional Police joined police across Canada as they took 
part in Operation Green Sweep and raided four houses - three in Oakville, 
one in Burlington - netting 2,004 plants worth approximately $2 million and 
$160,000 of related equipment.

Twenty such operations have been shut down in Halton so far this year.

Marijuana is illegal, of course, but police and fire personnel are 
appealing to the public to understand the many other dangers associated 
with such growing operations.

The greatest risk is that of fire and the OPP estimate that one in 10 of 
these indoor operations will go up in flames, resulting in possible injury 
and death to occupants and emergency personnel as well as property damage 
to the grow house and neighbouring residences.

Other problems associated with these operations include blown hydro 
transformers resulting in blackouts in neighbourhoods; poisonous gases from 
re-vented furnaces and chemicals used in growing; explosions; booby traps 
set to repel intruders; electrocution; injury to children living in the 
homes; and, the higher cost of electricity resulting from hydro theft.

Violence is another problem, since the ability to make massive profits 
prompts growers to arm themselves. In British Columbia, one in eight 
homicides is related to the marijuana growing industry. There is also 
increasing evidence of kidnappings, extortion and home invasions related to 
the practice.

Police also want the public to know that they can play a part in rooting 
out grow houses by keeping their eyes peeled for the following tell-tale 
clues that such an operation has set up shop in their neighbourhood:

Evidence of tampering to the electrical meter (such as damaged or broken 
seals) or the ground around it.

Homes made to look lived-in with items like light timers, but very few 
people are seen actually coming and going.

Late night, or very short, visits by people.

Strange smells or the overwhelming odour of fabric softener.

Water lines and/or electrical cords running to the basement or outbuilding.

Unusual noises, such as hammering or drilling into the foundation.

People bringing unusual items into the house, such as bags of soil, lots of 
plant roots and potting plants.

Excess potting soil and other grow media around the house or in the 
immediate area.

People continually bringing items and taking items away in garbage bags.

Windows always covered.

Residence or outbuilding has unusual amount of roof vents or exhaust fan 

Outbuildings have air conditioners.

Unusual amounts of steam coming from house vents in cold weather.

A house rooftop with no snow on it when those of surrounding homes are 

High condensation around windows.

Little or no garbage put out.

People arriving at the home to shovel snow, put out the garbage or mowing 
lawns then leaving immediately.

People coming to the home only every week or so.

New neighbours who never take furniture or groceries into the home.

House utilities obtained under assumed names with payments made in cash.

Houses rented under assumed names with payments made in cash.

The purchase of expensive heat lamps for unexplained reasons.

Unexplained and unseasonably high utility bills.

Properties with excessive security.

Building of large greenhouses or tin barns on property where such 
structures are not normally utilized.

Large purchases of fertilizer, garden hose, plastic PVC pipe, chicken wire, 
long pieces of 2x2 lumber, different sizes of pots, machetes, camouflage 
netting, camouflage clothing, various sizes of step ladders (up to 18 to 20 
feet) usually painted green or brown, green plastic garden tie materials, 
cans of green spray paint, large trash bags, lanterns, portable heaters, 
extension cords, heat lamps and fans.
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