Pubdate: Tue, 07 Dec 2010
Source: Williams Lake Tribune, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Williams Lake Tribune


Belying the Cariboo's remote beauty is an increasingly seedy

According to the RCMP, there is a growth in the number of marijuana
grow operations in the area and this, in part, could be attributed to
the Cariboo's geography.

"The reason they are popular in rural B.C. is the growers have an
easier time hiding the grows. It's just the natural lay of the land,"
says Williams Lake Staff Sgt. Warren Brown. "We are aware that there's
an increasing number. I would say . earlier this year we estimated
there to be in excess of 100 grows in our detachment area."

In a bid to stop the spread of these operations, the Cariboo Region
Integrated Marijuana Environment Task Force was established in
September and has been working in the communities of Williams Lake,
Prince George, Quesnel, 100 Mile House and surrounding communities.
The task force was created due to a 300 per cent increase in public

Const. Michael McLaughlin, a federal operations media relations
officer for the RCMP, thinks the number of complaints could be the
result of a public that is more willing to speak out and an increase
in the number of grow operations.

"Certainly people have had enough and we've very much gotten that
message that they've had it and they want organized crime out,"
McLaughlin says.

With 20 to 25 additional RCMP officers on the ground, CRIME is tasked
with identifying and dismantling commercial operations whose product,
it is thought, is bound for export throughout Canada and the
continental United States. To date, CRIME has investigated 27 grow
operations comprising of approximately 54,000 plants; 13 of those
grows have been in the Williams Lake detachment area. Twenty-four
individuals are facing drug charges; six unregistered firearms have
been seized.

The operations are, on average, larger and more technologically

"We're seeing electrical reroutes, bypass panels and generators that
are of a very high professional quality," McLaughlin says. The dollar
amount required to set up an operation is an indicator, say police,
that organized crime may be involved.

There are numerous negative repercussions of grow operations,
according to Brown, including the potential of home invasions,
environmental damage, increased taxes due to enforcement costs and
ruined housing stock.
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