HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Sweep Nets 20 Marijuana-Growing Operations
Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Scott Simpson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Vancouver Raids Part Of National Blitz On Homes Used By Drug Dealers

Vancouver police executed search warrants on 20 homes Wednesday as 
part of Operation Green Sweep, a national blitz on marijuana-growing 
operations that involved 500 police and yielded at least 136 arrests 
and 289 charges across Canada.

At the mid-point of the operation, with about half the Vancouver 
warrants executed, Inspector Kash Heed of the city police drug 
section speculated the total value of the marijuana seized in 
Vancouver alone would be around $5 million.

The majority of the raids were conducted in Ontario, where more than 
100 homes were targeted including several in six upscale 
neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

About 500 police officers from more than 20 police agencies 
participated in the raids, under a plan initiated last November by 
Ontario's York regional police, in consultation with a member of the 
Vancouver drug squad.

Other Lower Mainland police detachments that participated in the 
event included Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Langley and Port 

Other Canadian cities involved include Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and 
Winnipeg and there were provincial operations in Quebec and Nova 

According to York region Detective Mike Klimm, 28 children were found 
in raided homes across the country, including two in Vancouver.

Police don't expect to have a final total on the number of charges 
and arrests, or the value of the seized marijuana, before Friday.

Klimm said the total number of grow operations raided will be close to 200.

Most of the Vancouver raids were on homes in the southeast part of 
the city, and Heed said that in most cases the operations are run by 
organized criminal gangs.

"Mainly they're outlaw motorcycle gang-based, or Asian 
organized-crime based," Heed said. "They're not just mom-and-pop 

The Vancouver operation involved 53 people including 38 police 
officers, fire and city inspectors and B.C. Hydro technicians.

At least four people are facing criminal and other charges as a result.

In addition to two school-age children who were turned over to social 
services, police recovered seven dogs that will be sent to the city 
pound -- including a 10-week-old male Rottweiler pup that was taken 
to an afternoon news conference at which the raids were announced, 
and happily nuzzled police and reporters.

Vancouver police also seized $26,000 in dried marijuana bud, $126,000 
worth of growing equipment and two replica handguns.

Heed said Vancouver police are getting regular reports from other 
jurisdictions that growers who have fled the Lower Mainland are 
showing up in Eastern Canada.

Heed could not estimate the number of growing operations in 
Vancouver, but said the number for the Lower Mainland has been pegged 
as high as 15,000.

Last year, Vancouver police investigated 609 suspected growing 
operations and, in spite of the daunting estimate of the total number 
of growers, Heed believes his section is having a significant effect.

"We're getting fewer complaints or tips from the community with 
regards to grow operations in the city of Vancouver," Heed said.

He said police, along with civic agencies and B.C. Hydro, are getting 
more expert at identifying marijuana operations.

He said British Columbia was the province where growing operations 
first took root as a sophisticated criminal enterprise.

"Just prior to attending this meeting, I was talking to people in 
Waterloo, Ont., regarding the problems they are having, and wanting 
us to work with them to assist us to address it.

But he added: "The regional boundaries, the provincial boundaries, 
don't come into play any more. They are going all across Canada to 
set up their grow operations."

Constable Phil Reid said Burnaby RCMP executed at least 10 warrants, 
adding that it's not unusual for the detachment to execute 15 
growing-operations warrants in a single week.

"It's an epidemic and when it's taken on on a national basis, we're 
pleased to see our brothers and sisters in law enforcement taking 
this seriously," Reid said.

He said police continue to welcome tips from the public.

Richmond RCMP Constable Peter Thiessen said police in that city 
executed at least four search warrants Wednesday, noting the 
detachment makes regular busts and is alarmed by the number of 
occasions they're finding children on the premises.

"We're finding children are in amongst these grow-ops. The people 
that are running these grow-ops obviously don't have an overwhelming 
concern about their children," Thiessen said.

Vancouver media liaison officer Constable Sarah Bloor said one of the 
main objectives of Green Sweep was to encourage the public to be 
aware of growing operation activity and the physical dangers that the 
operations can pose for people living near them.

Captain Rob Jones-Cook of the Vancouver fire department said 
firefighters are "extremely concerned" about the operations because 
of the risk of fire and explosion -- which pose a risk to other homes 
in the vicinity -- from unauthorized and unskilled modifications of 
electrical and heating systems.

Homes used as growing operations are typically rental homes where the 
landlord or a management company has not exercised vigilance in 
screening or keeping up to date with the activities of the tenants.

Most of the homes don't have full-time occupants.

Since 2000, Vancouver civic inspectors have dealt with operations in 
1,000 homes and they've had no more than 50 instances where the 
landlord rented to someone who wanted to re-establish a marijuana 
operation, according to Vancouver licensing deputy chief Barb Windsor.

She said the number of repeats has fallen as the city has increased 
its demand for building upgrades after a growing operation is 

Windsor said the average cost of repairs to a home used as a growing 
operation is between $1,000 and $2,000 -- although some homes receive 
extensive damage that pushes the cost of repairs to tens of thousands 
of dollars.

B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Elisha Odowichuk said the Crown corporation 
dealt with 729 electricity diversions by the operations last year.

"This is losing money for B.C. Hydro -- millions of dollars per 
year," Odowichuk said. "We're really diligent about trying to get 
into civil court and trying to recover those costs, but we don't 
recover as much as we would like to, despite our diligence."
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