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RCMP Announces Arrival To Pot Growers With Siren

Rocky Balboa

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Surrey RCMP not only knocked and announced their arrival at a million-dollar home of suspected pot growers Tuesday, they blasted a police siren as well.

The innovative approach to executing a search warrant was in response to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago in which police were criticized for not giving enough warning to a pot grower before breaking down his door.

Justice Catherine Bruce dismissed the charges against Van Dung Cao, who was found with 704 pot plants, because police waited just two minutes after knocking before using a battering ram on his side door.

Bruce said the RCMP violated the "knock and announce" protection afforded by the Charter.

The controversial ruling left police flabbergasted, saying a delay in entry could risk the lives of the officers involved. An appeal has now been filed by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Drug investigators from the Surrey detachment were taking no chances when they arrived at a palatial home at 8517-171 St. late Tuesday morning.

"They thought for something different, we will get a marked car, we'll plunk it out front and we'll let the siren rip," Sgt. Roger Morrow explained.

"And that is what they did and this guy comes to the venetian blinds and pulls them apart and goes 'ugh' and retreats back into the house."

He said police had to break through the barricaded door before finding two more reinforced doors on the upper floor, along with 1,600 pot plants in the basement.

While searching for the occupants, RCMP found a rope ladder ready to enable escape to the outside.

But three people, two men and a woman, had instead clambered up a ladder and into a small attic opening where police found them hiding, Morrow said. Charges are pending.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association was not amused by the siren tactic.

Association president Jason Gratl said the RCMP proved just "how easy it is to comply with a knock and announce rule."

"Now they are mocking the law in effect," Gratl said. "In a way it is a very mild way to show disrespect to the court and to the rule of law."

The house subjected to the latest search, assessed this year at $982,000, is owned by Vancouver resident Lan Anh Vuong, according to land title records.

Vuong also owns his home at 10 Dieppe Place in Vancouver, worth $980,000 and a Homer Street condo, valued at $312,000.

Morrow earlier told The Vancouver Sun that Bruce's ruling did not give appropriate consideration to the fact police could face violence if they give too much warning to suspected drug traffickers.

And Solicitor-General John Les said a longer lag time would essentially give organized criminals time to "lock and load" before police entered.

Morrow said that when he arrived at the house searched Tuesday, "the smell of marijuana was overwhelming."

"I just took one step in and it was just, 'ohhh.' And they have destroyed the inside of this house.

The place was disgraceful inside," Morrow said. "The power being stolen and consumed solely by the growing operation was in excess of 21,600 kilowatts of electricity per 60-day billing period."

That is about 10 times what a normal consumer would use, he said.

Morrow said Surrey RCMP investigators are "attending, dismantling and charging people twice per week for similar seizures most ranging from 600 to 2,000 plants."

Source: Vancouver Sun
Author: Kim Bolan
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Website: canada.com
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