Grow ops are on the rise, but no more so here than elsewhere
by JOHN CHAMBERS
Members of the Kawartha Combined Forces Drug Unit continue to uncover multi-million dollar marijuana grow operations throughout the region as part of their annual fall eradication program.
Last week, officers uncovered roughly 14,000 plants near Havelock with an estimated street value of $14 million.
OPP Detective Constable Neil Brown said the plants were about two weeks away from reaching maturity.
“They were approximately three feet tall, so they were probably a couple of weeks away from being on the street,” Mr. Brown said. “We figure mature plants are worth about $1,000 each, so this grow op was worth $14 million.”
Like many of the OPP’s success stories, information from the public is vital in locating the grow ops, whether through calls to local OPP detachments or to CrimeStoppers. The information gathered through various outlets determines the success in discovering the grow ops each year and preventing the drugs from reaching the consumer.
“Police received information through the public’s assistance and tips received through CrimeStoppers are invaluable,” Det.-Const. Brown said.
Grow ops on the rise everywhere
As the end of summer gives way to September and early October, the maturing plants are much easier to spot and Det.-Const. Brown says their size makes it easier for outdoor grow operations to be discovered.
“This time of year, they are easily found because the plants are bigger,” he said.
Det.-Const. Brown says the OPP has responded to about ten “good size” grow operations over the last couple of weeks, three of which were located in Northumberland County.
“The largest grow op in Northumberland County was about 4,200 plants with an estimated street value of about $4.2 million near Campbellford.”
One arrest was made in the Campbellford-area grow op. Det.-Const. Brown says the investigation is continuing into the Havelock-area seizure last week and charges are pending.
A veteran drug unit officer, Det.-Const. Brown says the prevalence of marijuana grow operations has been steadily increasing for the past few years, but added the problem isn’t any worse locally than anywhere else.
“It is increasing throughout Ontario,” he said. “It started out in British Columbia and it has slowly been moving this way.
“It is increasing, but (Northumberland) isn’t as bad as other areas,” he added.
Of the two recent grow ops discovered near Campbellford, both were farms that Det.-Const. Brown says were purchased with the specific intent of converting into full-fledged grow ops.
“We get a lot of grow ops in corn fields,” he said. “(But), the two in Campbellford were farms that were bought specifically for the purpose of growing marijuana.
“The ones who are buying farms for these purposes are mostly from larger urban centres like Toronto or Brampton, Markham and those areas – those would be the larger more advanced ones,” he added.
As in the case of the recent Havelock-area grow operation, Det.-Const. Brown says the approximate 14,000 plants were growing in a farmer’s field on a property purchased specifically for the grow op.
The Kawartha Combined Forces Drug Unit covers a tremendous geographic area from Highway 12 in Whitby north to Orillia, southeast to Brighton and north through Campbell-ford all the way to the southern boundary of Algonquin Park. In recent years, the Unit has gone from seizing 54,000 marijuana plants a couple of years ago to more than 100,000 annually.
Det.-Const. Brown says this year is equally as busy.
“We are getting a lot of tips and information from the public and we are following up on all of them,” he said. “We are uncovering grow ops almost daily.”
note: the print version of this asks people to write the paper with their thought on this article
For Letters to the Editor:mailto:email@example.com