Pubdate: Fri, 19 Jan 2007
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell, Crime Reporter
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


They ranged from a few plants in the basement of a bungalow to
hundreds of leafy -- and lucrative -- green plants flourishing under
bright lights in multiple apartments spread over multiple floors in
suburban apartment buildings.

That's what the Toronto Police Service discovered last year as it
waged war on the brigade of indoor pot growers who seemed undeterred
by threats of stiffer sentences and stepped-up vigilance by law
enforcement, Hydro and the real estate industry, not to mention nosy

"A lot of time it's a business decision where they're going to put it
in and the factors that go into it," said Det. Don Theriault, of the
drug squad.

He's responsible for the area east of Yonge St. A look at the more
than 270 indoor grow-ops dismantled by Toronto cops up until Dec. 12
last year reveals the obvious: When it comes to setting up shop, the
city's big lights are no draw when it comes to keeping things on the
down low.

"With a marijuana grow operation, the persons are going to keep
unusual hours, and there's going to be smells coming from the place
. that would make it advantageous to be in a suburban neighbourhood
rather than a dense neighbourhood," Theriault said.

A majority of grows were found in private residences, while more than
100 were discovered in apartments -- alluring to growers for their
single hydro meters and near record-level vacancy rates.

Police found 13 in industrial (commercial) spaces.

No grows were found in any of Toronto's tonier neighbourhoods --
meaning don't look for any fire sales in Forest Hill due to provincial
seizures under the Civil Remedies Act.

"It wouldn't (be) cost-effective or make a whole lot of sense to put a
grow-op into a house that's going to cost double that it would from
another neighbourhood."

It remains to be seen how the province will deal with properties used
to grow pot by renters, not owners -- which is not uncommon, Theriault

"We are finding innocent homeowners who didn't know their house was
being used for grow-ops."

Theriault wouldn't hazard a guess at how many indoor grow operations
exist in Toronto or the GTA.

Previous law enforcement estimates put the number in the thousands.
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