Indoor pot growers busted in early-morning raids last week were
working together like a co-operative, police say.
Staff Sgt. Ray Massicotte said the 23 people arrested last Friday
knew each other and were growing marijuana in a similar manner with
elaborate equipment, such as high-wattage light bulbs,
umbrella-shaped reflectors and floor fans.

Police say those arrested are part of an organized group. Two of the
23 arrested were serving conditional sentences on similar charges in
British Columbia before starting homegrown operations here.

Police would not say where or how the marijuana is being sold.

The sophisticated "grows" were located mostly in the basements of
suburban homes, with some growers using bedrooms as drying rooms, he

Couples lived with their children in some homes, while other houses
were used strictly to grow marijuana.

Growers bypassed their hydro meters to tap into the large amount of
electricity needed to power the lights used to grow marijuana indoors.

Police raided 17 homes on Friday, seizing almost 2,000 marijuana
plants valued at $1.3 million to $1.9 million. Ten of the homes were
in K-W, while others were in Guelph and the Toronto area.

Since January, Waterloo regional police have raided 30 homes and
charged 40 people in connection with similar pot operations.

Nearly 8,000 marijuana plants have been seized this year, with a
value of $5.5 million to $7.9 million.

Police called their six-month sting operation Project Greenhouse. It
involved 70 officers from the local police, the RCMP, the OPP, and
Hamilton, Guelph and Peel forces.

Seized in Friday's raid was $102,000 in cash, $1,500 US, $120,000
worth of growing equipment and jewelry which has yet to be appraised.
The jewelry included rings, a pearl necklace and Rolex watches.

Massicotte said police received many tips from the public.

"This investigation was a success in large part from co-operation
from citizens of Waterloo Region,'' he said.

Massicotte said parents routinely phone him and ask for help to get
their children or friends away from pot.

"Any day we can take this much dope off the street, it's a good day,'' he said.

"The way I look at it, if our efforts of Friday stop one kid from
ruining his life and getting involved in drugs then we have been
successful,'' Massicotte said.

To date, one 21-year-old Kitchener man has been given an 18-month
conditional sentence for an indoor pot growing operation. Some
critics say house arrest is a slap on the wrist and the sentences
should be tougher.

Insp. Kevin Harrison, of the RCMP proceeds of crime office in London,
said it can be frustrating when police are involved in lengthy and
costly drug investigations to find the courts giving out lenient

But Harrison said police will continue to bust pot-growing operations.

"It's never for naught . . . Look at the drugs and cash seized,'' he said.

"It's a criminal offence that causes havoc to the community,''
Harrison said. "It should be taken seriously. It's drug trafficking
whether it's marijuana or cocaine.''

Waterloo regional police Insp. Matt Torigian said police are
responding to concerns in the community and "our judicial partners
need to be on our side.

Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jun 2001
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record (CN ON)
Copyright: Kitchener-Waterloo Record 2001
Author: Liz Monteiro
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)