HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grow-Ops Growing In Number
Pubdate: Tue, 13 Dec 2005
Source: Orillia Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005, Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Frank Matys
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


An illegal cash crop with direct ties to organized crime is finding a
home in rural Ontario with alarming regularity, police said.

Lured by the prospect of cheap, plentiful land and the relative
anonymity of country life, marijuana growers are increasingly putting
down roots in communities that had until recent years gone largely
untouched by the drug trade.

The majority of pot grown in these remote regions is destined for the
lucrative U.S. market, where an ounce of illicit bud can fetch seven
times the going rate in Canada. Click Here!

"There is major money in these crops," Det. Insp. Frank Elbers told
reporters during a press conference at OPP Headquarters.

Elbers, a veteran drug enforcement officer, was flanked by colour
photos of the large-scale grow operations that are popping up with
increasing frequency in and around small communities.

Officers entering grow operations discovered by the OPP helicopter
units that search for the telltale "fluorescent" green fields must
tread carefully, police said.

"The violence and danger aspect is very prevalent," Elbers added.
Booby traps left by growers range from the crude -- fish hooks hanging
from trees or nails protruding from the ground -- to more
sophisticated forms of weaponry.

In one instance, officers discovered a live shotgun shell mounted on a
fence, rigged to fire its deadly cargo with the help of trip wires.

Armed guards are common as well, ready to fend off would-be thieves
who stumble upon the valuable crop.

"You expect the worst when you go into something like this, because
there are millions of dollars there," said Sgt. Scott Ross, an OPP
helicopter pilot. "There are all kinds of little things there to hurt

Armed with infrared equipment, pilots will canvass the heavily treed
areas that surround marijuana fields in search of growers who may be
laying in wait.

"We know where our people are at all times," he added.

Since the start of 2005, police in Ontario have raided 15 farm-sized
pot fields, with each property housing between 7,000 and 24,000 plants.

Overall, the Orillia-based OPP Drug Enforcement Section is reporting a
100-per-cent increase in the number of plants seized over the past

Between January and September, officers dismantled more than 600 grow
operations and uprooted in excess of 400,000 plants.

Seizures in areas surrounding Bancroft, Matheson, Iroquois Falls, and
Kincardine are up 600 per cent, Elbers said.

Plants cut from the earth by officers wielding hefty steel blades are
hauled away by helicopter in massive nets capable of holding 2,500 lbs
of the freshly-fallen foliage.
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