Pubdate: Fri, 22 Sep 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Rob Shaw, Times Colonist


 From the air, it looked like a beautiful field of lilacs. But 
something just wasn't right. And when Lake Cowichan RCMP constables 
directed their helicopter to take a closer look during a routine 
reconnaissance flight earlier this week, they found out why.

Their sharp eyes had spotted an outdoor marijuana grow operation 
valued at more than $1 million.

It is the most valuable pot bust in Lake Cowichan RCMP's history, 
said Cpl. Brian Brown.

"This is the biggest one we've ever seen," he said. "It has 
completely filled a 23-foot moving van from floor to ceiling."

As many as 562 mature marijuana plants were growing on 
government-owned park land in Skutz Falls, between Lake Cowichan and 
Duncan, said Brown.

They were already mature and ready for harvest by the time police 
spotted them Tuesday.

But officers faced a conundrum. Should they set up surveillance to 
catch the growers, or use their limited resources on a different case 
to try and recover seven missing handguns they suspected were in a 
residence on the other side of town?

"Time was of the essence, and we decided the plants should never make 
it to the street," said Brown, of the decision to gather the plants 
and then deal with the handguns. Four officers, and one RCMP 
auxiliary member, cut down the plants and hauled them into a truck on 
a cold and wet Wednesday, said Brown. They were scheduled to be 
destroyed yesterday.

RCMP went on to recover a motorcycle, electric guitars, and the seven 
handguns after executing a search warrant on the other side of town Wednesday.

"These guns were bound for the street, so we've definitely struck a 
blow," he said. "We had word these were bound for either Vancouver or 
the [Cowichan] Valley."

They also found cocaine, said Brown. Another motorcycle, stolen from 
Victoria, was recovered.

Charges are pending against a 34-year-old woman, but she was merely 
the person home at the time, said Brown. Police are still looking for 
other suspects.
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