HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Children in Squalor at Grow House
Pubdate: Wed, 18 Feb 2004
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Page: A13
Copyright: 2004, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Jeff Gray
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Women)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Police 'Disturbed' By Living Conditions; Marijuana Seized

A nine-year-old boy's 911 call may have helped blow the whistle on his 
parents' Richmond Hill marijuana grow operation, leading police to discover 
six children living in what officers described as appalling conditions.

York Regional Police responded to a silent 911 call on Monday at a 
red-brick home in a residential area, and were greeted by a 35-year-old 
woman and her six children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.

The home was filthy, police said, and the woman aroused suspicions when she 
pre-emptively answered questions that the police asked her children about 
the 911 call.

"The officers were pretty disturbed at the door," police spokeswoman 
Kathleen Griffin said.

Once inside, police found debris-laden rooms where children slept on bare 
mattresses that reeked of urine. They also smelled marijuana.

In all, police seized 22 marijuana plants in the house's basement and 
garage, 122 marijuana stems strung across the kitchen on a clothesline to 
dry and about 25 kilograms of dried and packaged marijuana in a refrigerator.

Investigators also found a case of .45-calibre ammunition and pepper spray, 
and a locked safe. Police said yesterday they were still trying to obtain a 
search warrant for the safe.

The Children's Aid Society was notified and a relative is now caring for 
the six children.

A 35-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man both face charges of producing an 
illegal substance and possession of a controlled substance.

Neighbours contacted in the quiet, affluent, ethnically diverse 
neighbourhood said they didn't suspect a thing.

"People pretty much mind themselves around here," said George Goudis, a 
retired banker who lives near the house and walks his two dogs past it 
almost every day.

"I'm out all the time so if anybody in the neighbourhood should know, it 
should be me."

Mr. Goudis said there was nothing unusual about the children, who he often 
saw playing or riding their bikes on the street.

But he said he never spoke to the parents.

"The kids all seemed to be nice enough kids. They didn't look 
undernourished or anything," he said, adding that he spoke with them 
occasionally. "From outside, it looks like a typical neighbourhood house."

York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge, who has said that his force is 
waging a war on marijuana grow houses, urged anyone who suspects their 
neighbours to call police.

"Grow houses not only bring a dangerous criminal element into our 
community, but the fact that children are being raised in this environment 
is a major concern," he said.

York Regional Police say they have found other children living in marijuana 
grow houses, and have turned over eight children to the CAS already this 
year. Last year, 22 children were found in marijuana grow houses in York 
Region, police said.
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