HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Nationwide Raids Net $50M In Pot
Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 Calgary Herald
Author: Emma Poole, Calgary Herald


Calgary drug cops joined hundreds of other police officers Wednesday in 
simultaneous, countrywide marijuana raids, netting nearly $50 million worth 
of the illegal plants.

About 500 officers, including nine from Calgary's drug unit, took part in 
Operation Green Sweep.

Canadawide, 149 warrants were executed, with 289 charges laid against 136 
people from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

"One of the main purposes for today's exercise was to raise public 
awareness in Canada around growing marijuana and the problems (it causes) 
within our local communities," said Insp. Murray Stooke, commander of 
Calgary police's major crimes section.

"Each jurisdiction took a look through what they had on their active case 
files and participated in Operation Green Sweep by taking this morning to 
do the warrants that we had ready."

On average, Calgary's drug unit raids at least one suspected marijuana grow 
operation a week.

Police forces began planning Operation Green Sweep in November.

The bulk of Wednesday's raids were conducted in Ontario, where more than 
100 homes were targeted.

In Calgary, two homes -- including one in the southwest community of 
Bridlewood -- were raided.

Police seized 372 marijuana plants with a street value of $372,000. They 
also took $12,500 in growing equipment and $695 in cash.

Two Calgarians are now facing 10 drug-related charges in connection with 
the busts.

"Like other jurisdictions in Canada, we're seeing a very large increase in 
the marijuana seizures in our jurisdictions," said Stooke. "We're noting an 
increasing number of hydroponic operations in Calgary."

Last year alone, Calgary police executed 65 warrants, seizing $9.6 million 
worth of marijuana. The year before, 50 warrants netted $4.7 million.

"Marijuana growing operations do have a safety impact. In many operations, 
there are children living in these houses, as was the case in one of the 
warrants executed today," he said.

Police consider the home grow operations particularly dangerous because the 
growers often bypass electricity meters.

It's estimated 90 of the operations raided Wednesday involved utility-meter 
bypasses. There have been several fires caused by faulty wiring used to 
power the grow lamps.

The electricity from the bypass, which doesn't go through fuses or circuit 
breakers, poses a danger to emergency personnel responding to any fire.
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