Pubdate: Thu, 03 Sep 2009
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Luke Hendry, Staff Writer


The arrest Tuesday of eight people in the Project Industrious drug
sweep is progress, but police say much more work lies ahead.

Well-organized networks of increasingly sophisticated growers are
producing -- and exporting -- more potent marijuana.

Belleville Police Chief Cory McMullan said Project Industrious --
including Tuesday's arrests and seizures -- is worthwhile despite the
unending caseload.

"This is a dent in the drugs in Ontario, but it's a significant dent,"
she said of the project's latest phase.

"When we're able to turn the neighbourhood back over to the
neighbourhood, where (there has been) fear and danger of having a grow
operation -- that's what makes it all worthwhile," she said.

Det.-Sgt. Dan Reive, who is in charge of the OPP's local Project
Longarm drug unit, said the charge laid against those arrested Tuesday
- -- participating in a criminal organization -- doesn't necessarily
mean a person is suspected of being part of a specific network.

Instead, he said, it reflects a certain degree of organization in
their actions.

"The main purpose is, in this case, the mass production of marijuana,"
Reive said.

He said it's not clear whether those arrested have direct links to
Asian organized crime or whether they actually resided in the places
police listed as their homes.

"We're still exploring some of the immigration aspects," Reive said.

"We're not so arrogant to think that we have a complete picture of all
the groups involved in this activity. It is fair to say there are
numerous criminal organizations within Asian organized crime as an
umbrella that are actually involved in mass production of marijuana
and export to the United States.

"Certainly there is a domestic market but we are seeing trends that
indicate a large amount is being produced here and shipped to the
United States. The amounts are increasing and they are extremely

The marijuana is also higher in delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the
active chemical in the plants, than that seen when Reive began working
on drug cases more than a decade ago, he said.

"It's a totally different drug in terms of the THC content," said
Reive. "It's much more potent. The street values are very high,
particularly in the United States."

He said a pound of marijuana is worth about $2,500 in American funds,
or $2,750 in Canadian dollars, on U. S. streets.

But in Canada, the same amount is worth $1,500 to $2,500 in Canadian
currency, he said. The difference between the countries is "supply and

"The United Nations has indicated repeatedly that we are a source
country for marijuana, methamphetamine production and ecstasy," said
Reive. "We know there's a lot going on that we're not aware of. We do
the best we can with the resources we have."

Reive and McMullan said public tips have played a key part in the

Reive said public support for drug enforcement remains strong.

"Programs like Crimestoppers are huge for us ... People understand if
they call there's someone who will deal with it."

The OPP drug enforcement section had 2,924 investigations in 2008.
Officers reported dismantling nine drug labs and 499 growing
operations. They charged 2,404 people and seized an estimated $270
million in drugs.

In the Bay of Quinte and Kingston area last year, police said, $31.7
million in drugs were seized along with $817,000 in cash and about
$500,000 in assets. Fiftyfive search warrants yielded the seizure of
28,000 plants and 48 weapons. Police charged 263 people with a total
of 831 charges.

To make a tip, call Belleville police at 613-966-0882 or
Crimestoppers, at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). The website is 
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