HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'If You Grow It, We Will Come'
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Mar 2002
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Ian Robertson


Police Sting Nets $8m In Home-Grown Marijuana

BRAMPTON -- The area's first "sting" operation to target organized crime's 
booming indoor marijuana plantations weeded out $8 million in pot, police 
said yesterday.

Raids conducted by "Operation Potluck" officers also pulled the plug on an 
Asian crime gang that police said has established more than 1,000 pot 
operations in Toronto-area homes in two years.

Elated by the success of the 10-month undercover operation, Peel Regional 
Police drug enforcement Det.-Sgt. Ian Calder said pot growers should fear: 
"If you grow it, we will come."

The arrest Wednesday of 21 people on cultivation and conspiracy charges, 
the closing of four Mississauga hydroponic garden centres, and raids on 
five homes is a serious blow to gangs who have been setting up home-grow 
operations, Peel Acting Supt. John Nielsen said.

The task force, of Peel, RCMP and OPP officers, created "a real hydroponic 
lab, that we operated ... as a sting operation," Nielsen told reporters.

To act as a home-grower and infiltrate the gangs, a Drug Enforcement 
Administration (DEA) operative unknown in Ontario was seconded from the 
United States, he said. The agent won the confidence of suspects, who 
offered to harvest and buy the plants after they matured in about two months.

Gardening Lessons

After paying a $2,500 consulting fee, he said the agent was taught to 
cultivate marijuana seedlings.

Peel cops seized marijuana worth $53 million from home-grow operations in 
2001, $24-million worth in 2000 and $20.5 million since Jan. 1.

British Columbia pot farms were a favourite cash crop of Asian mobsters, 
who trekked east after police started cracking down, Nielsen said.

The success of what Nielsen called a "sting operation" should send a 
message to drug growers "that Peel Region has a zero-tolerance policy."

In addition to seizing 4,000 marijuana plants worth $8 million in five 
Mississauga homes, police charged the owners of All Seasons, Sunlight 
Hydroponics on Lakeshore Rd. E., Easy Grow Hydroponics on Dundas St. E., 
and Vitamax Gardens on Britannia Rd. E. with pot-related offences.

The sites, two homes, several autos with a total value of about $1.7 
million were seized under court orders, along with $230,000 in Canadian 
cash and $71,000 U.S. Police said they'll apply to have them surrendered as 
proceeds of crime.
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