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Six Grow-Ops Taken Down In One Day


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A procession of about 10 vehicles turned heads in the quiet Steelhead community Friday morning.

A woman standing outside a store near the corner of Dewdney Trunk Road and Cardinal Street stopped in her tracks just after 10 a.m. as she watched one vehicle after another turn the corner into the heart of the tight-knit community.

Some of the vehicles were marked police cars, others were not, but every occupant in the vehicles was part of the day-long project to execute six search warrants on homes suspected of housing marijuana grow operations.

As soon as police made their way to the 12400 block of Ainsworth Avenue, the experienced members of the Mission RCMP and the Lower Mainland's Emergency Response Team quickly pulled into the driveway of the suspected home and secured the area.

One member remained in a marked RCMP vehicle with a loudspeaker and called the residents out.

A 33-year-old man dressed in a white t-shirt and blue jeans opened the door quickly and met police.

Once inside the house, police found 43 pounds of drying marijuana and 1,400 plants still growing.

Also inside the home was the man's 29-year-old wife and their three children, all under the age of eight.

The man and his wife were taken into custody and the children were turned over to a family relative.

As soon as the situation was under control, a few police officers stayed behind while everyone else climbed back into their vehicles and headed to the next target, which was in the 33300 block of Fourth Avenue, about 100 yards away from Mission Central Elementary School.

Police accessed the second home, which is owned by the man who owns the Ainsworth Avenue home police had raided earlier, from an alley and called for its occupants to come out.

When it was clear nobody was going to come out, police entered the home while what appeared to be an under-nourished female pitbull-cross, ran out. The dog ran from police and disappeared, but the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig stood its ground inside the residence amongst the 200 marijuana plants.

According to investigators, plants were recently harvested at the home.

While police executed a third search warrant, right next door to their second target, Mission Animal Control was called to remove the small pig from the home.

According to Sherry Taylor who carried the pot-bellied pig away, animal control is often called in to remove dogs after a marijuana grow op bust, but this is the first time she has been called to look after a pig.

The third home, which police entered from Fourth Avenue, was also unoccupied. Inside the house, police located over 1,000 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and a hydro bypass.

"It's a spider's nest of electrical hazards [inside the third home]," said Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre. "There's very shoddy electrical work just waiting to go up in flames."

A number of curious neighbours watched intently as police executed the third search warrant that morning.

Stacia Greenan, who lives on the same block with her family, says she and her neighbours have had suspicions about the house and were wondering when police would take notice.

"It's happened before," said Greenan, noting police raided a marijuana grow operation in the same home about two years ago.

She reported seeing cars coming and going throughout the night and only the garage door opening.

Greenan, who homeschools her four children says having a marijuana grow operation in her neighbourhood is definitely cause for concern because "you never know what [crime] goes along with it."

Police confirmed a marijuana grow operation was taken down in that home a couple of years ago, but point out the property has changed hands since then.

B.C. Hydro crews were called in to clean up the electrical mess.

As a few more RCMP members stayed behind to keep the buildings secure, others returned to the police station to regroup.

The remaining three search warrants were executed later in the day. A search of an unoccupied house in the 33900 block of Araki Court resulted in the seizure of 790 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

The fifth and sixth homes in the 7800 block of Peytavin Place and 7600 block of Strachan respectively, were heavily barricaded and police had to use "considerable force" to enter the homes.

Police located 700 marijuana plants and 10 pounds of dried bud in the fifth home and 850 marijuana plants in the sixth home.

Police also arrested two men at the sixth home and both are expected to face criminal charges.

In the past week prior to these six searches, four other marijuana grow operations were dismantled by police and last week alone, there were three reported cases of home invasions in Mission related to marijuana grow ops, said Lemaitre.

"Mission residents suffer with illegal grow ops because criminals often mistake addresses and have the wrong one, and end up terrorizing innocent people.

"We know in B.C., grow ops are linked to organized crime," Lemaitre continued.

The export of B.C. bud brings in ******* and illegal firearms, said Lemaitre.

Marijuana growers may seem like good neighbours because they're quiet and don't complain, began Lemaitre, but their activities threaten the safety of a neighbourhood.

Source: Mission City Record
Author: Carol Aun
Copyright: 2007 Mission City Record
Website: Mission City Record
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