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Pubdate: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON) http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/TorontoSun/News/2004/12/15/783187-sun.html Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership. Contact: http://www.canoe.com/NewsStand/TorontoSun/home.html Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/457 Author: Zen Ruryk, City Hall Bureau Chief A MILLION JOINTS SEIZED BY T.O. COPS Grow-Ops An Epidemic TORONTO COPS have seized enough pot to roll 1 million joints and have shut down 293 marijuana growing operations this year. As of Oct. 31, police officers had scooped about 7,000 kilos of weed off the street -- more than double the 3,100 kilos of marijuana seized last year, according to crime statistics reported yesterday to Toronto's budget committee. Police Chief Julian Fantino said that this year's haul "represents about 1 million joints," and added that the number of hydroponic grow-ops have exploded in Toronto. "In 2001, they numbered 33 in total. To date this year, we're at 293 sites and rising," said Fantino. "The increase in grow sites and their labour intensive investigation is having a tremendous impact on our resources." The city's top cop added that grow-ops-- often set up in homes located on quiet streets -- have become an epidemic in the Greater Toronto Area, one that poses public threats, including fire and mold. As of Nov. 25, the force also seized 3 million images of child pornography -- an increase of 1 million over the total discovered during all of last year. Child Porn UP Officers seized 200,000 images of kiddie porn in 2001 and another 1 million illegal depictions of children in 2002. Fantino said that his force has dedicated seven officers to capture those involved with child pornography. "Our work in detecting and investigating the production and trafficking of these images is growing exponentially," he said. "These investigations are very labour intensive and are, in fact, continuing to be one of the stressors in our policing resources." The police department wants the city to boost its $677.5 million overall operating budget by $17.9 million -- or 2.6% -- to $695.4 million.