Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: Vaughan Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Multimedia Nova Corporation
Author: Corey Lewis
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our editors
may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who have not been
convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise public figures or


Massive Bust Of Grow-Ops In York Region

York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge has a warning for those
caught up in the drug game: Watch out. We're watching you.

The notice comes after police announced the outcome of a two-year
anti-drug investigation, Project Tropical Storm. The Drug and Vice
Enforcement Bureau operation shuttered 18 grow-operations around the
GTA and York Region, and former Concord business Tropical

Police confiscated over $12 million worth of illegal narcotics and
laid numerous criminal charges against the three company owners.

Three grow-ops were within Vaughan's borders: homes on Thornhill Woods
Dr., Benjamin Hood Ave. and Pieta Pl. Over 1,100 plants were seized in
the city alone.

"If you are existing in this capacity to support the illegal marijuana
grow operations and other drug enterprises . we'll be investigating
you," La Barge said at a news conference Friday.

An anonymous tip in 2006 about the profusion of grow-ops in the GTA
touched off the investigation, police said.

An alleged link was established between the illicit enterprises and
Tropical Distribution, which relocated to Toronto. The company served
as a one-stop shop for the equipment, material and advice necessary
for indoor production of marijuana, police said.

While he declined to give a number, the police chief stated York
Region is home to other similarly modeled businesses.

"Here in York Region we fight a war on drugs and it's a war fought on
many fronts," La Barge said.

Millions of dollars of electricity were stolen due to this type of
activity, he added.

How the homes were attained is still under investigation, said
Inspector Thomas Carrique.

A Vaughan woman has been charged with fraud over $5,000 in connection
with the property acquisitions.

Most of the homes were owned outright, representing a shift away from
leasing houses for these sorts of activities, Carrique said. In the
past, he noted, drug traffickers and suppliers avoided the equity risk
involved in purchasing a house.

Though no children were involved in the grow-ops, La Barge took the
opportunity to rail against parents who conduct this illicit and
chemically hazardous activity in their household.

The police chief called for harsher penalties when children are in

"What disturbs me is when our guys go in with the breathing apparatus,
completely covered from head to toe, and there's an infant lying in
the crib," La Barge said. "If you buy a $50 bag of marijuana, ask
yourself, what role did you have to play in that whole chain of events?"

Newmarket residents [name redacted], 41 and [name redacted] 28, were
charged with 18 counts of production of a controlled substance, 18
counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and numerous
counts for theft of electricity.

[name redacted], 28, of Mississauga, was charged with conspiracy to
commit an indictable offense, three counts of production of a
controlled substance, three counts of possession for the purpose of
trafficking, and three counts of theft of electricity.
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