Pubdate: Sat, 25 Aug 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Rob Shaw, Times Colonist
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


A police crackdown on Vancouver Island marijuana grow-operations has
already destroyed the equivalent of a million joints, and is on pace
to beat last year's haul.

A team of RCMP, municipal police, and Canadian Forces officers has
found about 10,000 plants in the past four days, said Cpl. Greg Cox,
spokesman for the RCMP's Island District.

The work is about half done, he said. If officers keep up the current
pace, they could exceed last year's haul of more than 16,500 plants.

Generally, a single mature plant can be harvested, processed and used
to make between 500 and 1,000 joints.

Most of the plants were located on remote areas of provincial Crown
land in Sayward, Campbell River and south of Courtenay. "It's that
time of year and the plants are somewhere upwards of six feet tall,"
said Cox.

"But the plants at this stage are pre-bud. The active content is
minimal, so the plants are rendered useless just by destroying [them]."

Cox would not say how officers destroyed the plants.

Police often already know where the grow fields are located, and the
annual crackdown gives them a chance to destroy the stock, he said.

At other times, officers on the Integrated Marijuana Eradication Team
make use of three Sea King military helicopters to scout uncharted

They destroy the plants rather than wait for the growers to return.
Police won't conduct surveillance because they aren't sure when
someone will come back for the plants, said Cox. "You're not going to
put [a police officer] in the bush for two weeks. The idea with this
is just to go in and eradicate as many as possible."

Still, it means police are rarely able to identify and arrest those
responsible for the outdoor grow-ops.

"Unless they were silly enough to leave personal belongings behind,
there's nothing to tie people to them," said Cox.

The integrated team does "great work" for smaller police detachments,
said Campbell River RCMP Staff Sgt. Dwight Dammann. "Otherwise, we'd
be out in the woods ourselves," he said. "It's a co-ordinated effort
and takes the pressure off us." 
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