The Chatham Daily News
Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Police on lookout for illegal crops
ASKING FOR PUBLIC'S HELP
Posted By ERICA BAJER, THE DAILY NEWS
Local police are on the lookout for contraband crops in local fields.
Every summer, members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service have their eyes peeled for marijuana plants growing in local soil. They ask that the public does the same.
"We rely upon the public," said Sgt. Gary Conn. "They are our eyes and ears out there."
He said the green plants, which have a "pungent skunky odour," grow as high as six-feet tall.
They are often found growing in corn fields.
"They put them in the corn fields to try and conceal them," Conn said.
He said criminals often transplant marijuana from an indoor grow operation into fields.
"By putting them outside, it frees up more space inside for the opportunity to produce more marijuana," he said.
Conn said signs of illegal pot farming include cleared out plots in fields and suspicious vehicles parked near fields at night or early in the morning.
Last week, Conn said 29 pot plants were found in a field after the raid of an alleged marijuana grow operation, which included 96 plants growing indoors.
Two weeks ago, an officer on patrol noticed a suspicious vehicle near a field. He stopped to check it out, which led to the seizure of 60 pot plants worth $60,000, Conn said. Chatham- Kent OPP Const. Aaron McPhail said officers with the drug enforcement unit often investigate complaints from farmers about pot plants found in fields.
Around mid-August each year, OPP sweep Ontario's western region -- an area stretching from Tobermory in the north to Lake Erie in the south, and east from Windsor to Guelph.
OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor said he expects this year's sweep to be a big one.
"The weather conditions have been good. It's not very complicated to grow marijuana; you just add water. It's a very hardy plant," he said.
Rektor said each August's harvest usually nets millions of dollars worth of illegal plants.
In 2006, police seized $10.9 million of the sticky green plants and last year snagged a whopping $15.2 million. Rektor said he expects a similar haul this year.
Farmers and passersby are urged to report suspicious activity and suspected pot plants to police at 519-352-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Article ID# 1125700