HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Police Cracking Down On Pot Labs
Pubdate: Sun, 07 Nov 2004
Source: Brampton Guardian (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Brampton Guardian
Author: Pam Douglas, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our editors 
may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who have not been 
convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise public figures or 


A special team of 30 Peel police officers will be sweeping the city, 
attacking the growing problem of pot labs set up in local houses.

The number of marijuana grow labs discovered by Peel police exploded to 
more than 300 last year, compared to 31 in 2000.

Morality Bureau Det. Sgt. Marc Andrews said police have identified several 
hundred more currently operating in Brampton and Mississauga. The special 
team will be working through that list, seizing plants and shutting down 
the labs.

The blitz team of Morality Bureau officers has officers working 20 hours a 
day, seven days a week in an "aggressive" attack on the problem.

Last year, Morality Bureau officers raided 376 houses containing marijuana 
grow labs, seizing $152.7 million in drugs.

To convert a house into a grow lab, holes are cut into floors, walls and 
ceilings to allow for ventilation. Holes are cut in cement foundations or 
garage floors to allow hydro metres to be bypassed and electrical wiring in 
the house is altered to accommodate fans, timers and lights.

Over time, the excessive heat and moisture from the lab may cause airborne 
mould and mildew to settle in the ventilation system, walls, floors and 

Insurance companies have refused to cover damage caused by lab operators 
when someone buys a resale home. Unsuspecting homebuyers may not be able to 
get insurance on the properties, according to police.

To protect themselves, purchasers of a re-sale home should have the vendor 
verify in writing that the property was never used as a marijuana grow 

There are several ways police find the labs, but the most common is through 
tips from neighbours. Residents will call and say they think a lab may be 
operating in a house on their street.

"Almost invariably they're right," Andrews said.

There are several telltale signs, including:

* grass not cut/snow not cleared, although Andrews said some operators are 
now making sure this minimum amount of maintenance is done to deflect 

* people coming to the house and leaving at unusual times;

* an unusual, skunky odour coming from the house;

* the sound of fans running inside;

* basement windows covered and appear to be sealed;

* snow on the roof may melt faster than on surrounding houses;

* ice may form at the chimney opening or around attic vents during the winter.

There have been some recent labs discovered in industrial units in 
Brampton, too. Before the current phenomenon, growers would set up in 
industrial units, but they were easy for police to discover and for a time, 
moving to residential neighbourhoods helped keep the labs more hidden.

On Wednesday night the Peel Street Crime Unit raided a lab in an industrial 
unit on Automatic Road. They had to negotiate around two German shepherds 
guarding the unit. Officers pulled 269 marijuana plants, several pounds of 
loose buds on drying racks and buds in Ziploc bags, valued at a total of 

Three suspects were arrested a short distance away. Charged with 
cultivating marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking are 
[NAMES DELETED], all of Brampton.

If you suspect a house in your neighbourhood is being used as an indoor 
grow lab, call Peel Morality Bureau at 905-453-3311, ext. 3515, or Peel 
Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager