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72 Year Old Charged In Massive Marijuana Operation

Rocky Balboa

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It's not your grandpa's hobby garden: A 72-year-old city man is at the centre of a $3-million drug bust, accused of growing marijuana crops in his Whitehorn house.

"This is one of the largest-ever seizures of marijuana in Calgary," said drug unit Staff Sgt. Monty Sparrow of last Wednesday's bust. From the outside, the green-sided house in the 3400 block of 48th Street N.E. is typical looking, adorned with white plastic icicle lights. A child's red bicycle leans against a tree in front.

But inside, it was packed with 2,418 marijuana plants and growing equipment. The massive drug crop was worth $3,022,500, according to the Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team.

Now, an order condemning the home is posted in the front picture window, just above the occupant's Beware of Dog sign. Police say the grow op is linked to organized crime.

"Organized crime is definitely behind it. This isn't a one-shot grow. It's a continuous grow. It wasn't for personal use," said Sparrow.

Neighbours say they didn't suspect a man born in 1935 would be accused of operating one of the city's biggest pot growing dens.

"I was shocked. It's a surprise to me. I had no idea," said a next-door neighbour.

"It's a good neighbourhood. I'm not afraid," said another.

Zhi Qiang Lin, 72, is charged with possession or marijuana, production of marijuana and theft of electricity. He is not listed as the home's owner.

He will appear in provincial court Feb. 19.

Lin is not the first senior charged with running a grow op in Alberta.

In June, a 78-year-old Okotoks man was charged with production of marijuana after police raided a pair of acreages south of the city.

The marijuana growing in a barn was worth $1.4 million.

A 36-year-old woman was also charged.

"With that attraction to money and the amount you can make, it's attractive to anybody of any age," said Sparrow.

Last Thursday, police made a $1-million bust in the first block of Evansmeade Common N.W. in Calgary.

Investigators found 848 marijuana plants with an estimated value of $1,060,000.

Source: Calgary Herald
Author: Sherri Zickefoose
Copyright: 2008 Calgary Herald
Website: canada.com
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