Pubdate: Sat, 20 Mar 2004
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Coast Reporter
Author: Ian Jacques


For the fourth time in two weeks, the Sunshine Coast RCMP has busted a 
major marijuana grow operation.

After a four-month investigation, the RCMP Street Crew executed a search 
warrant at a home on Coracle Drive in Sechelt on Sunday.

Const. Andy Cook said police found a sophisticated marijuana grow 
operation, including 30 marijuana plants of the "Christmas tree" variety, 
with 15 of the plants approximately six feet tall and bearing bud. In all, 
more than 110 kg of marijuana was seized.

"The marijuana grow operation, which was located in a residential area, 
used an automated hydroponic system to water and feed the plants," Cook 
said. "The grow operation used 20 high-intensity grow lights to provide 
light to the plants and had a sophisticated ventilation system. The main 
growing areas were located in the basement under a set of false stairs that 
lifted up to reveal a trap door. A Hydro bypass was located in the home as 

Cook said police are still seeking a male and female suspect believed 
involved in the operation.

He said once police locate and arrest the two suspects, they would face 
charges of production of marijuana, possession of marijuana for the purpose 
of trafficking and theft of Hydro power.

"Marijuana plants of the Christmas tree variety generally produce a minimum 
of one pound of marijuana bud per plant and usually produce more than 
that," Cook added.

"A pound of marijuana usually sells for over $2,000 in this area, depending 
on availability. This was a large-scale, commercial-type grow operation."

The Street Crew has been kept busy the past couple of weeks. Last week, 
police busted an operation at a home on Pebble Crescent in Sechelt, netting 
more than 200 plants in various stages of growth.

Two men in their 30s were arrested and will appear in Sechelt provincial 
court May 25 to face charges for production of marijuana and possession of 
marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

A large marijuana drying and trimming operation was also taken down at a 
home on Heritage Road in Sechelt.

One man in his 30s has been arrested and will appear in court in May facing 
a trafficking charge.

Police also made a major bust, netting more than 175 plants at a Cochrane 
Road home in Gibsons last week.

Two men and two women, all in their 50s, were arrested and face charges for 
production of marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of 
trafficking when they appear in court May 18.

Cook said the increase in busts lately is due to good police work and 
assistance from the public.

"We're trying to do the best we can with the limited resources we have," 
Cook said. "The busts have been a combination of the work of the Street 
Crew and public tips. We've been getting quite a few lately."

In late 2003, the Sunshine Coast Street Crew section was formed to allow 
for proactive targeting of drugs, property crime and marijuana grow 
operations on the Sunshine Coast.

Cook said the Street Crew section has been gathering intelligence on 
marijuana grow operations, with emphasis being placed on those operations 
linked to organized crime and organized groups of growers.

"To date, efforts have resulted in a number of successful projects and 
individual cases and these efforts will continue, with the targeting of 
commercial marijuana grow operations being one of the main priorities for 
2004," Cook said. "Marijuana grow operations in B.C. have become more 
prevalent due to the high profit margin and the perception that penalties 
for grow operations are lenient. There are also those who list marijuana as 
B.C.'s largest cash crop.

"Marijuana grow operations are one of the main revenue sources for major 
organized crime groups and organized groups of marijuana growers. Many of 
the marijuana grow operations on the Coast have linkages to these types of 
groups. The Sunshine Coast has historically been mislabeled as a haven for 
marijuana growers."

Cook said there are typically two types of marijuana grow operations which 
police encounter: small-scale operations and commercial operations.

Small-scale operations generally produce smaller quantities of marijuana, 
often for the grower's personal use or for a small profit on the street, 
Cook added.

"Persons involved in small-scale marijuana grow operations are not 
generally linked to organized crime groups but may be linked to organized 
groups of marijuana growers," he said.

"Commercial marijuana grow operations are generally larger and more 
sophisticated, with significant amounts of marijuana being produced. These 
commercial operations are generally linked to organized crime groups or 
organized groups of marijuana growers, and their sole purpose is profit."

Cook said marijuana grow operations present dangers to both the police and 

"Indoor marijuana grow operations are prone to fire due to the presence of 
heat, electricity and water in close proximity to one another," Cook said. 
"The wiring in many operations is sub-standard and accounts for the bulk of 
fires that occur in grow operations. The people associated to marijuana 
grow operations can be a danger in and of themselves.

"Many growers keep firearms or other weapons on hand to protect their grow 
operations, creating obvious problems for both the police and public. Added 
to this is the alarming trend of 'grow-op rip-offs' where persons attend a 
residence (usually armed) and attempt to rob the grower of their marijuana 

Cook said assistance from the public has been crucial in the RCMP's 
continued attempts to combat these illegal operations and is essential to 
their efforts.

The public is encouraged to contact the RCMP at 604-885-2266 or 
Crimestoppers at 604-885-TIPS(8477) with any information. 
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