HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Dope Houses Grow Like Weeds
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Nov 2004
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Kelly Pedro, Free Press Crime Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Marijuana grow houses are 'everywhere' in London and police say the
problem isn't slowing down.

London police have begun posting the addresses of former grow houses
on their website as officers across the region attack a problem that
shows no signs of easing. Police say there are at least 365 marijuana
grow houses in the city.

"They're everywhere -- apartments, residential settings in the
suburbs, warehouses, attics, closets," said Det. Mark Dwyer of the
London police drug unit.

 From January to October this year, OPP have uncovered 90 grow
operations, arrested 102 people and laid 402 charges across five
counties -- Haldimand-Norfolk, Elgin, Brant, Oxford and Middlesex,
said Det. Sgt. Brad Durfy of the OPP's drug enforcement unit.

OPP seized about $426,000 in property, 76 weapons and more than $4
million in pot.

"I haven't seen anything slowing down and we're as busy as we've ever
been," said Durfy.

City police have begun posting the addresses of former grow houses at

In 2000, city police raided 43 indoor grow houses, followed by 76 in
2001, 102 in 2002, 88 in 2003 and 67 so far this year.

"It may appear . . . because the numbers dropped since 2002 that the
problem is going away, but in 2003 the drug squad concentrated on
Project Impact (a six-month undercover investigation that targeted
crack dealers in east London)," Dwyer said.

London police have seized more than $8 million in pot so far this

Police and firefighters have long tried to impress on the public the
danger of grow houses.

Grow houses can develop problems with mould and toxic residue from the
use of fertilizers, while improvised wiring, the bypassing of
electrical meters and the use of huge amounts of electricity for
lighting and heat add up to fires in the making, they say.

Because growers bypass meters, firefighters can enter houses unaware
they're throwing water on live wires.

A suburban London neighbourhood and four city firefighters got a sense
of how dangerous the grow houses can be when a blaze broke out at a
Cranbrook Road home Sept. 4.

London police seized 700 pot plants worth about $700,000 from the
house and an additional $18,000 in grow equipment.

No one was in the house when the fire began, but a firefighter was
injured when he fell through the main floor.

He was treated in hospital, but was not seriously injured.

The problem is national in scope, Dwyer said.

In early July, Oxford Community police revealed a two-week sting in
Woodstock led to the city's largest bust -- a $1.6-million marijuana
grow operation in a restaurant building.

At the time, police said the grow house appeared to be linked to a
larger operation, possibly with processing labs in Toronto for Ontario
distribution and export to the U.S.

Two Toronto men were charged in that case.
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