HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grow-Ops Take All Vice Squad's Time
Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Gail Swainson, Staff Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Problem Has 'Exploded' in York

Hurts Other Police Work, Chief Says

York Region police's entire 20-officer vice squad spends all its time 
combating the burgeoning marijuana grow house problem, says Chief Armand La 

"It has occupied a vast amount of the time of our drug and vice bureaus," 
La Barge said in an interview following a breakfast address to the Markham 
Rotary Club. "And that means we are spending less time -- and money -- in 
other areas."

"This is one of the single largest types of criminal activity going on in 
the region. It has just exploded here."

The York Region police service is asking council for $145.7 million this 
year, a $23.8 million hike over its 2003 budget.

There are an estimated 10,000 grow houses located in Greater Toronto, many 
of them in York Region, La Barge told the breakfast meeting.

Last year alone, 342 charges relating to marijuana grow operations were 
laid in York Region, with drugs seized worth a total of $52 million.

A total of 173 search warrants were issued for grow-ops in York Region in 
2003, 80 of them in Vaughan and 63 in Markham.

La Barge said a disturbing trend is the increasing numbers of children 
found living in marijuana labs.

In February, York officers found six children living in squalor in a grow 
operation at an upscale Richmond Hill home. They can be exposed to mould, 
chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, electrical fires and possible 
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