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Registered: 07/26/04
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Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN)
    #3560270 - 12/30/04 04:20 AM (16 years, 2 months ago)

Grow-ops too many to raid, police say
Wednesday, Dec 29, 2004
Globe and Mail

Police say hydroponic marijuana is a Canadian growth industry grown out of control. There are so many grow houses in neighbourhoods across the country that officers leading the fight are focusing on large, gang-run operations and resigning themselves to seeing countless others go untouched.

It is "certainly true" there are too many to stop, said Superintendent Derek Ogden, head of the RCMP drug branch, which has set its sights on those with the muscle, money and distribution channels of organized crime.

"We're firm on that because we know that there are a large number of operations out there -- obviously thousands across Canada -- and we have to target the limited resources to the highest echelon," he said in an interview.

As politicians discuss a bill to soften the law on possession of small amounts of marijuana (criminal sanctions would give way to fines akin to traffic tickets), Canada finds itself a centre of large-scale, high-quality illegal production. That phenomenon, in which Asian gangs and outlaw bikers play major roles, is driven by fat profits, rising marijuana use and far lighter penalties than are faced by growers in the United States, where much of the output ends up.

Supt. Ogden would not try to guess how many operations exist across the country.

"The only thing I could say is I have no doubt that the number is increasing and has been increasing over the last number of years," he said, pointing to what he called "reasonably accurate" statistics on marijuana plants seized by police. The count rose from 50,000 in 1989 to 1.5 million in 2003, he said.

At a hearing last month for seven men convicted in a record-breaking bust at a former Molson brewery in Barrie, Ontario Provincial Police drug specialist Rick Barnum estimated that the province has as many as 25,000 grow-ops, a sharp increase over a previous police estimate that the number might approach 15,000.

(A year ago, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police issued a much-cited "Green Tide" report guessing that anywhere from 2,980 to 14,900 grow-ops had been active in the province during 2002. Those figures were arrived at by taking the number of operations police found and dismantled -- about 1,490 -- and theorizing that the total was anywhere between twice and 10 times that number.)

In a recent interview, Detective Staff-Sergeant Barnum said his figure is a judgment based on talks with municipal police forces, power companies, real estate agents, building-code officials, bylaw-enforcement officers and others in a position to see signs of houses being turned into climate-controlled indoor marijuana plantations. He said he believes there are as many as 15,000 grow-ops in the Greater Toronto Area alone.

"I mean, we haven't gone through with our instruments, our FLIRs [infrared heat sensors] and stuff, and actually counted each house, but there's certainly a good indication that there's lots of grow houses out there, an overwhelming number," he said.

"But the point is, if it's 15,000 or even if it's 2,000, it's still uncontrollable from a policing perspective. That's a phenomenal amount of work and a phenomenal number [of cases]."

No matter how hard police work to root out individual grow houses, he said, "it's impossible to get rid of them, there's that many."

In Ottawa, Supt. Ogden said grow houses showed up in British Columbia in the 1980s and have since spread in a major way to Alberta, Ontario, Quebec (although more than half of Quebec grow busts are still outdoors) and the Atlantic provinces.

As part of a five-year, $57-million anti-drug effort launched in 2003, the RCMP have set up six-member specialist teams to work alongside local drug squads to fight grow-ops in the Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal areas. This year, similar teams will arrive in Ontario and the Atlantic region, Supt. Ogden said.

Part of the job is to persuade people that whatever their views on marijuana, grow houses are a problem, especially if one shows up next door, Supt. Ogden said.

"We run a number of operations each year that are international in scope. They have all aspects that any other drug operation would have. . . . We seize weapons. We see violence. All the elements are there."

Unknown numbers of children live in grow houses and are exposed to risks of fire, electrocution and poisoning amid jury-rigged wiring, fertilizers and pesticides, he said. "It also puts them at risk of violence. We've seen, especially in Western Canada, a number of drug ripoffs. People will go into a house and steal a crop . . ."

Police also see cases "where these criminals don't have their information straight," he said. "They go into the wrong house. They tie up innocent people. They terrorize people in these homes and those people are being terrorized as a direct result of grow operations operating in the community."

If that is not enough, there is the question of real estate values, with damage to individual houses used by growers running to $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 and more, he said.

"The wiring is not designed to draw that much electricity," Supt. Ogden said. "There's fungus growing inside the house. There are definite fire hazards. . . . When you go in and buy a home, you assume that it hasn't been used for a grow operation, but, boy, if it has, you may have a lot of legal difficulties . . .

"It's the same if you have homes that you're renting [to others]. I mean, if you rent [out] a home in good faith but then find out that an organization has duped you and used your home [as a grow operation], that destroys a lot of value in a home in a hurry."

Toronto real estate agent Victor Kerman said buyers should be aware that a grow house may be back on the market after a few crops.

Buyer beware

Clues for spotting houses formerly used as marijuana grow-ops, from Victor Kerman of Royal LePage Signature Realty:

Indications that walls were put up and subsequently removed. (A wall may have been erected a few feet back from the front window with a table and lamp set in the front portion to create the illusion of a living room while offering privacy for the operator.)

Ceiling repairs and repainting, repairs to the roof, patched subfloors and new carpeting to hide areas where vent holes were cut.

Excessive moisture in the house, including saturated insulation in the attic and staining on walls and floors from condensation.

Showers and bathtubs altered for plant watering purposes.

Rust on the furnace and flues or chimneys.

Smell of chemical or fertilizer.

Alterations to electrical, natural gas and/or water lines.

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Research &Development -DBK
Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 15,738
Re: Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN) [Re: veggie]
    #3561690 - 12/30/04 04:08 PM (16 years, 2 months ago)


"That phenomenon, in which Asian gangs and outlaw bikers play major roles, is driven by fat profits,..."


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Registered: 08/18/04
Posts: 468
Loc: very south
Re: Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN) [Re: veggie]
    #3562393 - 12/30/04 07:51 PM (16 years, 2 months ago)

Refer madness. Replace MExican and blacks with Asians and Bikers.

At least they realize the rediculous effort to stop it. Maybe they should just legalize so people can grow outside in their backyards when the weather permits.

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eye of horus
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Folding@home Statistics
Registered: 03/31/02
Posts: 11,349
Loc: Geographic Location (Stat...
Re: Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN) [Re: EonTan]
    #3568309 - 01/01/05 04:23 PM (16 years, 2 months ago)


I just helped my friend cut his crop and clean up the gear for the next run :laugh:
I'm not asian, nor do I belong to a gang (nor do I smoke it)
Tax & Regulate using the Alcohol model and suddenly all the grow houses will DISAPPEAR!


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Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 12,326
Re: Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN) [Re: blink]
    #3569549 - 01/02/05 01:33 AM (16 years, 2 months ago)

Overgrow the government! Canada today, United States tomorrow, the whole world next week!!!

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Da Bud Guru
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Registered: 07/25/02
Posts: 5,875
Loc: Near Hilo
Re: Grow-ops too many to raid, police say (CAN) [Re: veggie]
    #3630074 - 01/15/05 05:12 AM (16 years, 1 month ago)

I'm Hawaiian I wonder if that is close enough to a Asian. Hmmmm......Asian gang member in Canada, or terrorist in the U.S.....

All creatures tremble when faced with violence. All creatures fear death, all love life. If we can only see ourselves in others, then how could we possibly hurt another creature?

:growingweed: Join us at the Growery! :growingweed:

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