HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Meter Readers To Spot Pot
Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jun 2004
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Calgary Herald
Author: Emma Poole


Letter Carriers Asked To Help Task Force As Well

Drug unit investigators are looking to enlist letter carriers and
meter readers in their fight against marijuana grow operations.

Drug unit officers are already schooling 4,500 local realtors on how
to recognize pot farms -- including signs such as foggy windows, a
pungent smell and unusual traffic patterns.

The push to engage other high-profile and mobile groups would bolster
the drug unit's growing anti-weed arsenal, said investigators.

The move comes as police near $40 million in seized pot since

More than 70 homes have been raided by members of the Southern Alberta
Marijuana Investigative Team, with 30,000 pot plants

"We're using (them) as our eyes and ears, really, in the public to
identify some of the tell-tale signs of marijuana grow operations and
to provide information we seek from the rest of the public as well,"
said Staff Sgt. Trevor Daroux of the Calgary police drug unit.

On Wednesday, more than 500 real estate agents participated in a SAMIT
class, taught by Det. Nina Vaughn, on how to spot a grow op.

It's the second seminar held in conjunction with the Calgary Real
Estate Board on marijuana grow ops -- a class that is now mandatory
for city realtors.

"We are very concerned about the aspects of mould and the potential
health hazards (grow ops) pose," said board president Don Dickson.
"(The group) thought it was one of the best seminars we've ever put

After a grow op is busted, the home is often condemned due to black
mould buildup and structural damage.

Dickson said realtors need to know how to spot a grow op, not only
from the outside of a home but also by recognizing when homes for sale
have been modified.

"A lot of our members haven't actually seen one, that's why this is so
valuable," he said.

Even realtors in rural communities are being asked to spot the pot,
said Mounties.

"Quite often, (rural areas) get some of the bigger ones, with farm
buildings and quonsets. The basics are the same," said RCMP Staff Sgt.
Birnie Smith. "Again, it's an education thing. We're trying to teach
people what to look for through different mediums."

Organized crime groups pose the biggest threat to officers and the
community, he said. "They're always trying to keep one step ahead of

SAMIT investigators have received 450 anonymous tips this year from
the public about potential pot farms.
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