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A grow op discovered southwest of Brandon on the weekend is the largest drug seizure in Manitoba history, Mounties say.
On Sunday morning, 35 officers from a number of drug enforcement agencies descended on a small farm in the RM of Sifton, seizing approximately 13,200 marijuana plants from various plots in two different bush clearings.
Few details about the bust were available yesterday, but an RCMP spokesman confirmed the discovery is one for the province's record books.
"Without a doubt, it's the largest seizure of its kind," RCMP Corp. Chris Ballard told The Sun yesterday.
The bust was the result of a tip cops received in July, and involved co-ordinated efforts by members of the Winnipeg RCMP drug section, the Brandon RCMP major crime unit, the RCMP's emergency response team, the Brandon Police Service vice division and the Brandon RCMP's police dog section.
Many of the officers involved were still on-site last night, Ballard said.
"I just talked to a supervisor who's still working," Ballard said. "As far as he's aware -- and he has the most extensive drug experience of anyone in the RCMP, in this division anyway -- it was the largest seizure he's ever seen. 'Without question,' were his exact words."
Prior to the weekend, the biggest drug bust in Manitoba was a seizure of 5,504 marijuana plants worth about $6 million that were found in a warehouse on Ross Avenue in Winnipeg.
Ballard said a 46-year-old man was arrested on the property without incident. His name was not released, but charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking are anticipated.
Area resident Don Barrows, who lives about two kilometres away from the site of the bust, said he doesn't know the owners of the property, and had no idea any criminal activity was taking place there.
But after hearing about the police investigation, Barrows told The Sun the warning signs were there.
'THOUGHT THAT WAS STRANGE'
"In the spring, I heard they weren't going to rent the land out, but they were just going to live there as is, and I thought that was strange, like they didn't want anyone around," said Barrows, noting the property is only 160 acres in size. "And across the gate they always had a rope or a chain. You don't see that in the country very often. You do in the city, I guess, but not in the country. Not unless you're really not welcome."
Ballard said Mounties seized assorted grow operation equipment and fertilizers in addition to the pot plants, which were located in fields north and east of the property's residence and farm buildings.