HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Six Homes Raided In $1.3m Drug Sweep
Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Don Campbell, The Ottawa Citizen


Officers Seize Marijuana Plants During Raids In 'Interesting' Areas; 'These 
Are Homes Right Next To Other Valuable Properties'

Residents in six city neighbourhoods woke yesterday to the sight of heavily 
armed police tactical officers storming homes as part of a national 
initiative in which $1.3 million in marijuana plants in Ottawa were seized 
and five people arrested.

Dubbed Operation Green Sweep, the joint forces operation involved Ottawa 
police, RCMP and Surete du Quebec officers and was undertaken in 
conjunction with other police services.

Police forces swept down on marijuana operations from

Nova Scotia to British Columbia yesterday, making 136 arrests. A total of 
46,796 plants were seized in the raids.

About 500 officers from more than 20 agencies were involved in the raids. 
In addition to the marijuana plants, police seized growing equipment worth 
about $3.2 million. Ottawa police, through intelligence and undercover 
work, targeted six homes, all in unlikely neighbourhoods.

The houses were located from Cumberland in the east to Kanata in the west 
and south to Greely.

Police believe between 50 and 200 homes within Ottawa are being used to 
produce marijuana for export. The six raids yesterday brought to 37 the 
total number of homes raided since the fall.

"These are not smaller homes. These are not older homes," said Ottawa 
police Chief Vince Bevan.

"We are finding these homes in very interesting neighbourhoods, many in the 
high-end districts, many of the homes valued in the hundreds of thousands 
of dollars. These are homes right next to other valuable properties."

In the pre-dawn hours, more than 30 officers from the drug units of the 
participating police services began assembling at Ottawa police 
headquarters. At the same time, three tactical units of eight officers each 
were preparing to go out.

Shortly before 8 a.m., the officers began setting up for the raids. Drug 
and surveillance officers in unmarked police cruisers took up positions 
throughout the targeted neighbourhoods while tactical units moved into 

By 8:30 a.m., the units were in place and the word went to tactical 
officers to begin ramming doors at three residences in the first of two 
waves, this time at homes in the Katimavik, Bel-Air Heights and Rideau-View 

As soon as those raids were completed, tactical units moved to their second 
destination to execute warrants in the Meadowlands, Cumberland and Greely 

In many cases, police are finding the homes unoccupied and then have to 
prove the homeowner knew what was going on inside his "rented" home. There 
was also one case last fall in which police arrested a man only to find out 
he was minding the home to repay a $12,000 drug debt he owed his dealer.

"We're trying to make residents aware of the inherent dangers and criminal 
activity these houses bring to an established neighbourhood," said Chief 
Bevan. "I'm sad to admit that the U.S. now considers Canada a source 
country (for marijuana), and there's no doubt in our minds these houses are 
growing marijuana to be shipped directly into the U.S.

"We know they are linked to organized crime -- to a variety of organized 
crime groups. They include Hells Angels and Asian crime groups. This is 
dangerous for a number of reasons."

Police conservatively estimate the value of each plant at $1,000.

Of the six targeted homes, police found four fully functioning hydroponic 
labs. One was in the process of being set up, and police suspect the sixth 
home has links to organized crime. In one raid yesterday, police entered a 
home and made an arrest, only to find the individual's vehicle and personal 
belongings at one of the other raided homes. That was the only established 
link between the six raids.

In the raid along Inuvik Crescent, officers found an elaborate hydroponic 
lab with 300 marijuana plants that were a week or two away from harvest. 
Neighbours along the crescent watched in horror from their windows as 
tactical officers stormed the home, a sprawling bungalow with a private 
backyard surrounded by a two-metre-high fence. One male was taken into 
custody and neighbours described him as quiet.

"Silence was his best tool," said one neighbour who asked not to be 
identified. "No one knew he was there. He was the perfect, quiet neighbour. 
The house didn't even look lived in. The driveway was never shovelled. Our 
kids have tried to knock on the door selling chocolates and stuff and he 
was never there. We thought he was on the road a lot."

In all, officers seized marijuana at five of the six locations. At a brick 
home at 1818 Gilbert Ave., officers found a system used to circumvent 
Ottawa Hydro's regular service, and had to call Ontario's Electrical Safety 
Authority to assist. The brick bungalow appeared almost normal, with 
Christmas lights still hanging along the roof. An artificial tree were 
still visible through the living room window.

"We want to bring awareness to the public this is happening is most every 
neighbourhood in the city," said Staff Sgt. Marc Pinault, head of Ottawa's 
Drug Unit. "These places are dangerous. The people doing it are generally 
stealing the hydro, circumventing it before it gets to the meter. That 
brings danger of fire. And there's so many other dangers involved with the 
equipment and gasses emitted.

"This is a major problem."
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