Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Authors: John Herbert and Jennifer O'Brien, Free Press Reporters


London police joined the nation's fight against drugs and took it into 
bedroom communities around the city yesterday.

About 500 police officers from 20 municipal, regional, provincial and 
federal forces raided 149 homes across the country in a well-orchestrated 
sweep on home-grown marijuana operations.

By the end of the day, Operation Green Sweep, co-ordinated by Ontario's 
York Region police service, has resulted in 136 arrests, 289 charges, and 
the seizure of 46,796 marijuana plants and $3.2 million worth of growing 

Raids were conducted late last night in British Columbia and Quebec, 
completing the project that began with planning in November.

London Police Const. Ryan Holland said about 40 officers from the city 
police force and local RCMP detachment raided six homes in London while a 
seventh home in Dorchester was raided by OPP from London.

Police here seized marijuana valued at $1.6 million and arrested nine 
adults and two teenagers. They also seized $120,000 worth of growing 
equipment and $500,000 in assets considered proceeds of crime. Holland said 
the assets were two homes and a car.

Police did not release names of the people charged.

Homes were raided at 1653 Richmond St., 817 Valetta St., 97 Langton Rd., 31 
Springbank Dr., 126 Napolean Dr., and 151 Bonaventure Dr.

"We want the public to understand these types of organized criminal 
activity are taking place in every neighbourhood across London,'' Holland 
said, adding the raids in London were mostly in residential areas.

"This was a co-ordinated effort to really heighten the awareness these 
operations are happening in all types of neighbourhoods.''

Holland said in most cases, the people setting up the growing operation are 
bypassing electricity meters and creating fire hazards. A typical grow 
operation consumes about $1,500 worth of electricity a month.

The London raid at 817 Valetta at 8 a.m. underscored how the drug business 
can be found right next door.

The Oakridge Acres bungalow can be found in the heart of one of London's 
proudest neighbourhoods where kids play hockey, go to school and church. 
The home is located across from Riverside public school, next to the 
Oakridge Arena and just down the street from Notre Dame separate school and 
St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church.

Holland said the home on Valetta and the majority of others raided in 
London were used mainly for growing marijuana. It appeared there were no 
full-time residents or families living in them.

Inside the Valetta Street home, police found only a mattress, television 
and table in the living room.

"The rest of the house was for growing marijuana,'' Holland said.

Police say it is a rental house with absentee tenants and described it as a 
''typical growth operation.''

Marijuana plants were found throughout the house and there was a strong 
smell of marijuana outside. Police removed more than 500 plants in various 
stages of growth and loaded six garbage bags of drugs into a truck.

One man was arrested at the house without resistance.

The Langton Road home was occupied by a family with three kids, said 
neighbour Steve Person.

"They are pretty quiet,'' Person said. "The most noise we ever heard was 
last summer one night when the grandmother and the mother were sewing in 
the garage while the kids were out screaming and playing in the backyard.

"It's pretty weird. It's a family neighbourhood. We have kids playing road 
hockey on the street. To have that sort of thing happen is quite odd.

"I had no idea they were involved in this.''
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