HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Welcome To Pot St
Pubdate: Wed, 20 Oct 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Alan Cairns, Toronto Sun
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


3 Grow Ops Raided On One Little Street In Scarborough

THERE GOES the neighbourhood has taken on a whole new meaning on quiet 
Queens-court Dr. in Scarborough. Within the past five months, Toronto 
Police have found sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operations within a 
stones-throw of each other at numbers 18, 19 and 22 Queenscourt.

The three houses are among 110 "grow houses" busted so far this year in 42 
Division's boundaries.

Even more alarming is the fact that police know of another 95 to 100 grow 
houses in that police division alone, but they cannot get to them due to a 
backlog caused by the complex and time-consuming probes and a shortage of 

"This house would have netted about $2 million a year," Insp. Wayne Pye 
said after police burst into 18 Queenscourt Dr. at 12:01 p.m. yesterday and 
dismantled the latest grow house.

"It's getting very, very big. It is a very lucrative business ... they have 
a total disregard for the laws and the community," Pye said.

Scarborough's 110 grow house busts are almost half of the 240 across 
Toronto this year.

 From the outside, 18 Queens-court seems like just another suburban family 
home on this secluded crescent-like street.

But its four exterior walls disguised a sophisticated and organized grass 
farm. The only furniture was hydroponic lights, electric fans, air vents 
and ducts and chemical feeding and watering systems.

Entire walls and ceilings were knocked out and the basement, main floor and 
upstairs bedrooms have been turned into a three-storey laboratory.

Police seized 1,160 pot plants in various stages of growth, 500 of which 
were mature plants with a street value of about $300,000.

No arrests have been made but there are suspects and arrests are 
"imminent," Pye said.

Neighbours said a group of Oriental males driving SUVs were seen coming and 
going from the house in the past few months.

"They came every second day or so," said one neighbour who didn't give her 

"They didn't want to talk ... we didn't see them long enough. They would 
jump out of the car and go and hide in the house."

Chinese characters on growing guides corroborate the sightings.

Number 19 was busted on May 10 and Number 22 was raided on Aug. 23.

Police do not know if the three operations are linked.


Pye said it is "a miracle" that nobody was electrocuted at Number 18 when 
the pot growers dug through the concrete basement wall and hooked directly 
into the main Ontario Hydro line.

"They have bypassed all the safety devices and put this house at high risk 
to go on fire ... it is a huge threat," Pye said.

He said firefighters who would have to enter the house in case of fire are 
put at risk by the crude electrical systems and chemicals used for growing 
and by booby traps left for intruders.

"We have recently found booby traps. One had steel pipes on the windows 
that were wired to electricity. Anyone who tried to get in and touched the 
steel bar would have got an electric shock that could have killed them," 
Pye said.

He said the drug growers typically use false names to buy houses with only 
a minimal down payment to secure a hefty mortgage.

"They go in and set up and there is no true equity," he said.

"The home is totally wiped out."

He said it is not uncommon for drug gangs to buy "three, four, five and 
six" houses in close proximity.

Pye said he hopes new laws will "lower the standard" for search warrants 
and police can get faster access to grow houses.

Local resident Paul Shearer says improved laws might work.

"I assume these actions would not be taken unless there is satisfactory 
evidence," he said.

"It would deter those engaged in this type of operation."

Pye said 42 Division boss Supt. Tony Warr wants to work with federal, 
provincial and municipal governments so grow houses undergo rigorous 
inspection before they are put back on the market.

The tropical environment of a grow house can cause major issues with mold, 
electrical standards and insects, he said.

Warr and Pye would like to create a special squad to seek and dismantle 
grow houses across the city.

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On one small street in Scarborough, three grow-op raids have taken place in 
the past six months:

- - 18 Queenscourt Dr., yesterday.

- - 22 Queenscourt Dr., Aug. 23.

- - 19 Queenscourt Dr., May 10.
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