Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Roberta Avery
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Marijuana Grown In Former Brewery Operation Had Dorm For Workers

BARRIE-Terry MacIsaac has driven past the former Molson's brewery
nearly every day since it closed more than three years ago putting him
out of work after 26 years on the job.

But he never imagined that a huge crop of marijuana was being grown in
the abandoned beer vats.

He rarely glanced at the windowless, gray industrial building
surrounded by two chain-link fences, topped with barbed wire and never
gave a second thought to the comings and goings of delivery trucks.

"Like everyone else, I'm absolutely astounded," said McIsaac
yesterday, after hearing that police are calling the indoor marijuana
grow operation, discovered in the former brewery during a raid on
Saturday, the biggest ever in Ontario.

Police found a vast quantity of marijuana growing in the vats and "in
every space that could be kept warm," OPP Superintendent Bill Crate

MacIsaac, who worked in the brewing room, estimates that there were at
least 60 of the giant vats each the size of a backyard swimming pool.

"I don't know if all the vats were left behind, but I can tell you
that they were huge," MacIsaac said.

The scale and sophistication of the operation with its production,
packaging and distribution centres and even a dormitory for workers
inside the huge building that stretches nearly one-kilometre is
"beyond words," Crate said.

"It's so big that it took me more than an hour to walk through. It's
twice as big as we initially believed."

Because of the sophistication and size of the operation police are
investigating if there are any links to organized crime or biker
gangs, Crate said.

"I can tell you that a lot of money and organization has gone into
setting this up."

A lone officer in a cruiser guarded the gate yesterday as a constant
stream of police officers collecting evidence came and went.

Few passersby stopped to ask questions and even at Casey's Restaurant,
the nearest watering hole, few of the customers seemed to know what
had happened.

"But it's been a big topic of conversation among the staff. We've all
been passing by that place every day and we never suspected a thing,''
said Casey's manager Brian Bell.

Police are investigating whether there are any links with another
marijuana grow operation discovered during a raid yesterday on a unit
in a commercial plaza in Oro Medonte on Highway 11 about 20 kilometres
north of Barrie, Crate said.

Eleven people have now been arrested in connection with that

Details of charges won't be released until a news conference today,
Crate said.
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