Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2005
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Police raided a house in a quiet neighbourhood yesterday to find a massive 
marijuana operation in the basement, just steps from a school yard.

For most neighbours, watching members of the Kawartha Combined Forces Drug 
Unit pull $500,000 worth of plants out of the Westbrook Drive house was 

"This freaked me out," said Murray Henderson. "There are a lot of kids 
around here, that's what scares me. What if a kid was poking his nose 
around just for fun and didn't know anything, and they catch him? You never 
know what they'd do."

Police seized about 400 plants along with a vast array of equipment 
including lamps and ballasts -- devices used to bypass the hydro meter.

It was one of the city's biggest seizures in years.

Det. Sgt. Dean Steinke said some of the plants were about six weeks away 
from being market ready.

No one was in the house and there were no arrests, Steinke said, but police 
expect to have people in handcuffs soon.

He said police executed a warrant after several days of work.

He wouldn't reveal how police got interested in the house, at 1631 
Westbrook Dr, across the street from the St. Teresa's School playground.

Westmount Public School and St. Peter's Secondary School are also close by.

Steinke said six officers went through the door with guns drawn.

"We will breach the door and we will clear it in the way we're trained to 
ensure officer safety," Steinke said. "So, yes, weapons are drawn and we 
ensure every room and every place and every closet is secured."

He couldn't say if the grow op was linked to any criminal network, but 
added it was a commercial operation.

"This is a little more than personal possession," Steinke said. "This is 
something of a grander scale. This is marijuana that is for the market. 
They're finding this all over the province. York Region, Peel, Toronto, 
everyone's been inundated. It was just a matter of time before Peterborough 
got hit."

He said the house's windows were covered and there was one mattress inside.

No one was living there.

The house will have to be gutted, Steinke said, because of the moisture and 
mould created by the grow op.

"It's your typical drug house," he said. "It's a beautiful house too, it's 
too bad. You can't resell it."

Steinke said the 1,600-square-foot basement was covered in a canopy of 
1,000-watt lights and lamp hoods with plants underneath.

Police cleaned out three separate grow rooms.

With the front door open, you could smell the marijuana from the sidewalk.

"They've bypassed the hydro meter and done up their own electricity," 
Steinke said. "We've got serious problems with the hydro down in the 
basement so I called Peterborough Utilities just to make the place safe 
before we dismantle it. They've got wiring and venting all over the house."

People living in the quiet neighbourhood, populated by families and 
seniors, had no idea what was going on at the end of their street.

"I walk past there every day and I never noticed anybody," Ian Ralston said 
while watering his lawn. "I thought it was vacant. It disturbs me. Some kid 
could go in there and be killed by one of these growers."

Some said they'd see a person cutting the grass once in a while, but no 
activity besides that.

"I know the house sold and we never saw anyone move in, so we didn't know 
what was going on," Henderson said. "This is close to two schools and St. 
Petes down the road. It's kind of wild. I just hope it doesn't ruin the 

So far this year, police have seized 30,000 marijuana plants in the 
Peterborough area.
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