HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 6 Kids Seized In Drug Houses
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2006
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Calgary Herald
Author: Kerry Williamson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Parents Arrested; Children Slept Near Marijuana Plants

Six children have been taken into custody following two marijuana 
grow op busts in Calgary, their parents set to become the first in 
the city charged under provincial legislation aimed at protecting 
kids living in drug homes.

Two children -- aged 18 months and four years -- were apprehended by 
Child and Family Services last Thursday. They were seized after 
members of the Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team busted a 
residential grow op in the southeast.

A day later, four children -- between six and 16 years of age -- were 
picked up at a grow op in the northeast. Two lived in a bedroom 
beside the basement grow op and had access to the marijuana-filled room.

Electrical wires that fed the grow op ran through their room, and 
both houses were filled with the pungent smell of dope.

"They were in very, very close proximity to the grow," said Staff 
Sgt. Monty Sparrow of the Calgary police drug unit.

Four people have been charged with drug offences, including the 
24-year-old mother and 35-year-old father of the two children found 
in the southeast home, and the 37-year-old mother of the four 
children found in the northeast.

Police say further charges are pending against the parents. The 
charges will be laid under the Drug Endangered Children's Act, which 
became law Nov. 1.

It will be the first time the new provincial legislation -- the first 
of its kind in Canada -- is used in Calgary since being pushed 
through the legislature by Children's Services Minister Heather 
Forsyth earlier this year. The legislation carries a maximum fine of 
$25,000 and two years in jail.

It enables police to charge the parents of children found living in 
grow ops or other drug environments, such as meth labs, with 
endangering the life of a child.

"We can actually now protect these children," said Sparrow.

"It gives us comfort knowing we can apply it." Forsyth said the 
legislation is aimed at providing police with another enforcement 
tool, as well as protecting children caught up in the drug trade. It 
stemmed from similar legislation in the United States.

"We need to reinforce that children involved in drug-endangered 
situations are being abused," Forsyth told the Herald.

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who heads the city's Stop Marijuana Grow 
Ops steering committee, described last week's busts as a "huge 
victory" in the fight against drugs.

"It comes down to organized crime and making profits. They will 
sacrifice their families to make a profit," said the Ward 13 
alderman. "I hope that if these parents are found guilty, that they 
never get their kids back."

In Thursday's bust, police found 120 marijuana plants worth $90,000 
at a house in the 100 block of Suncrest Way S.E. The parents of the 
two young children found inside were charged with possession for the 
purpose of trafficking, theft of electricity and possession of the 
proceeds of crime.

The next day, police uncovered 313 plants worth $356,820 in the 
basement of a home in the 200 block of Whitefield Drive N.E. Police 
also found a kilogram of marijuana worth $3,000 and three kilograms 
of marijuana leaves valued at $3,000. In that case, the 37-year-old 
mother of the four children was charged with production and 
possession of marijuana. A 19-year-old man was also charged with 
possession for the purpose of trafficking. Both busts followed tips 
from the public. The names of those charged cannot be released to 
protect the identities of the children.
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