RCMP bust pot grow-op

“Grow operators beware” is the message local crime units are promoting after both pot plants and dried marijuana were confiscated from a Fruitvale residence last Thursday.

“Grow operators beware” is the message local crime units are promoting after both pot plants and dried marijuana were confiscated from a Fruitvale residence last Thursday.

Trail and Castlegar crime reduction units executed a search warrant at a home on Mountain Street where they found a sophisticated growing operation in the basement.

“We received information regarding this residence and we did a warrant there in December on the same street, different residence,” said Trail RCMP Cpl. Darryl Orr.

The police netted 126 marijuana plants and 12 pounds of marijuana bud ready for sale. They also confiscated a prohibited weapon and a large quantity of marijuana shake used to make hashish.

A conservative estimate values the drugs around $70,000 and they could have produced about 15,000 marijuana cigarettes, he said.

“We have reason to believe that in this particular case, the marijuana would have been distributed in the Castlegar and Trail communities.”

The cooperation of RCMP crime reduction units in Trail and Castlegar has intensified efforts to eradicate the production and trafficking of illegal drugs and utilize numerous ways to ferret them out.

“There’s a whole bunch of things that can lead us to suspect a house as a grow-op,” said Orr. “It can be signs on the exterior of the house, it could be a tip that’s phoned in anonymously, it could be somebody we use as a source of information, in conjunction with hydroelectric power records.”

The Conservative government recently introduced legislation to apply mandatory jail terms for drug growers that will increase if charged in conjunction with illegal weapons, stealing power or soliciting youth crimes.

Bill S-10 is the third time the Tories have tried to get a law in place that would see drug traffickers and producers sent immediately to prison, even those convicted of growing only six marijuana plants.

If the bill is passed, the 26- and 34-year-old men arrested in this case could face anywhere from a minimum of three years up to 14 in prison.

The men are charged with production of marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a prohibited weapon and will appear in court in Rossland in April.

“We plan to have a very busy 2011, I think it’s going to be a very bad year for drug dealers,” said Cpl. Orr.