Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jun 2004
Source: Surrey Now (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc., A Canwest Company
Author: Tom Zytaruk
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)

Property Seizure 'Unfair' To City

Her Majesty has harvested herself a house in Chimney Heights, thanks to the 
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

But the city, which paid for most of the policing, won't get a crumb.

"It's incredibly unfair, obviously," said Surrey Coun. Gary Tymoschuk, 
chairman of the city's public safety committee.

Money from the sale of the house, assessed at $327,000, will go first to 
the federal government - a.k.a. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada - 
as offence-related property. The federal government may then in turn give 
the province some cash.

City hall, meanwhile, picks up the tab, paying 90 cents on every dollar of 
policing costs here.

The house, at 14672-75th Ave., belonged to Huu Ro Le, who was sentenced to 
three months in jail and ordered to forfeit his house to the Crown this 
Wednesday after he was convicted of growing marijuana for the purpose of 

In March last year a police raid turned up 805 pot plants as well as 
growing equipment in the basement of the house.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge then made an order preventing the sale, transfer 
of title or registration of any new mortgages or encumbrance on the 
property until the charges were dealt with in court.

But in late December, an RCMP drug cop noticed an unusual snow melt pattern 
on the roof of the house, raising suspicions that a second grow-op was 
under way there. A second raid this past January revealed a 175-plant 
grow-op in the basement.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Tim Shields said this is the fourth time the drug section 
saw to it that property was forfeited in Surrey. So far, 18 properties have 
been restrained by the courts.

Last year, the city of Surrey charged property owners $384,148 to recover 
costs of police, fire and city resources related to 221 grow-ops.

More than 55,000 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed. Broken down, 
that would be 2.5 joints for every B.C. resident.

Police armed with search warrants raided more than 160 grow-ops in Surrey 
and arrested 153 people. Of the 160 houses searched, children were found 
inside 23 of them. Also, 60 of the 160 houses searched had hydro bypasses.

Most grow-op busts come from tips from the public. But last year, 12 were 
discovered because of a fire, five were revealed as a result of landlords 
or real estate agents checking on tenants, four were discovered by police 
responding to an alarm or report of a break-in, two were discovered after 
police followed up on 911 hang-ups, one was busted following a loud party, 
and another was discovered because of a traffic crash.
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