Pubdate: Tue, 8 Sep 2009
Source: Haliburton County Echo, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Matt James
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


The Ontario Provincial Police and a number of its special forces units
are in the midst of their annual marijuana eradication program.

In the late morning of August 31, a helicopter was spotted circling an
area near Loon Lake Road, off Hwy 118, between Haliburton and
Essonville Line.

A few kilometres down the road two members of the Central East Drug
Unit reported that they were investigating a marijuana plantation of
1,000 plants with an approximate street value of $1 million. Aboard
their ATVs, the two officers were uncertain whether the plants were
found on private property or Crown land.

Before the officers could begin removing the plants, the area was
first cleared with the help of the police helicopter, an OPP Emergency
Response Team (ERT) and members of the City of Kawartha Lakes's canine

By 3:30 p.m. officers from the ERT, dressed in full camouflage with
painted faces and armed with automatic weapons, had filled a Discount
rental van three-quarters full of marijuana plants.

Each year police join forces for an annual land and air sweep for
marijuana grow locations using information, technology and resources.

Some of those tips, said the anonymous officer, come from Crime
Stoppers, concerned citizens and informants.

The officer explained that the marijuana-planting season begins around
the end of May and its peak harvest time between the end of September
and end of October.

"But we'd like to get to them before that," said the officer, adding
that a fully harvested plant can yield about $1,000 worth of the
THC-laden drug.

Recalling Project Pirate

Sometimes these marijuana grow operations lead to dangerous
situations. On October 5, 2007, six people were taken hostage after
happening upon a dozen people stealing from an illegal marijuana grow
operation north of Minden.

The masked, gun-toting marijuana harvesters dressed in camouflage,
forced the hostages to remain at the scene and one hostage was
assaulted upon trying to escape. The bandits fled only after taking
the hostages' identification and cellphones.

Seven months later the OPP's Project Pirate team was able to make 45
arrests and lay 173 charges in connection to the Minden incident.

On Monday the ERT were taking no chances. They were suited up in full
camouflage with painted faces and fully automatic weapons.

Warrant Leads to Arrest

Meanwhile, on Friday, August 26, members of the OPP Central Drug
Enforcement Unit executed a controlled drugs and substances act search
warrant at a residence on Wilkinson Road in Dysart et al. Inside the
residence officers located an indoor marijuana grow operation.

Officers seized 508 marijuana plants of various sizes, 47 grams of
marijuana bud and a large amount of hydroponic grow equipment.

The Ontario Hydro Power theft team also attended the

No charges have yet been laid. Police estimate the value of drugs
seized at $508,000 and the investigation is continuing.

Project Industrious

At approximately 8 a.m. on September 1 officers from Project Longarm,
Belleville, Bancroft and Toronto executed seven simultaneous
controlled drug and substances act search warrants of suspected
marijuana grow operations in the Bancroft area.

As a result eight people were arrested and marijuana plants with a
street value of $11,700,000 were seized along with grow-op
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