SEASONAL PLANTING ISN'T RESTRICTED TO HOMES

OPP Warning Public of Dangers of Illegal Marihuana Grow-Ops

ORILLIA, ON, May 26, 2011 /CNW/ - As the planting season has arrived, the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) is pro-actively warning Ontario residents and visitors of the dangers associated with marihuana grow-ops.

In 2010, OPP DEU and its partners investigated 586 indoor and outdoor marihuana grows, destroying 218,168 marihuana plants in various areas of the province. Another 2,190 kilograms of dried marihuana was confiscated, bringing the total value of seized marihuana to 258-million dollars. Officers also uncovered a solar-powered electric fence used to ward off the unsuspecting public, police, and so-called "pot pirates". There were also eight children - ranging in age from one to 12 years - found near various grow operations, as well as playground equipment at one particular grow.

Police continue to warn the public about the increasing threat to public and police officer safety posed by the expansion of marihuana cultivation in Ontario. Marihuana grown in Ontario is typically distributed throughout the province and exported to the United States. Stronger drugs, such as cocaine, as well as weapons and cash often return to Ontario to fuel other criminal enterprises, which further endanger public safety.

The OPP Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) is alerting the public to the dangers associated with outdoor marihuana grow operations.

During the late Spring and Summer months each year, people involved with growing illegal marihuana head into rural areas to start and care for, in some cases, very large plots of marihuana plants.  Typically, these illicit crops are located in swamps, corn fields, wooded areas, along rivers and on rural, rental properties with large acreage.

Marihuana plants are bright green in colour and grow to between three and five feet in height.  Marihuana leaves have seven jagged fingers and the plants give off a strong, pungent, musty odour. Common indicators of outdoor marihuana grow operations include:

  1. Abandoned vehicles parked on side roads or trails.
  2. People observed walking in remote areas for no apparent reason.
  3. Bags of fertilizer, planting trays or chemicals located in remote areas.
  4. Well-trampled trails in wooded or swamp areas.
  5. Cleared out areas in swamps, wooded areas or corn fields.
  6. Numerous "No Trespassing" signs appear out of nowhere.

Typically, marihuana crops will be harvested starting as early as late August up until the beginning of October.

There are numerous safety risks of which the public should be wary.  These risks include the potential presence of criminals, weapons and ammunition found on grow-op sites, and the potential for booby traps, rigged by the criminals growing these plants in an attempt to defend their illegal crops from other criminals known as 'pot pirates'.  All of these factors could lead to dangerous confrontations for unsuspecting, innocent people - including children - who just happen to be in the area of these illegal crops.

Another risk that the OPP wants to highlight is environmental. These criminal operations usually involve the unregulated use of many chemicals and other environmentally-damaging products.

Public Safety Tips

If you discover or suspect an outdoor marihuana grow operation:

  1. As soon as possible, call your local police or Crime Stoppers.
  2. Do not touch the marihuana plants due to potential chemical residue on the plants.
  3. If confronted by a marihuana grower, leave the area immediately and contact police.
  4. If possible and safe to do so, record any license plate or GPS information and notify police.
  5. In some cases, outdoor marihuana grows are guarded or protected by booby- traps.  If you discovered a crop of marihuana plants, do not enter the area!  For your personal safety, turn around and immediately leave the area the same way you came in.

If you have any information regarding illegal marihuana grow ops, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

QUOTES

"We remain strongly committed to work within all of our communities across the province to stem the tide of illicit drugs. OPP members, and those of our law enforcement partners, continue to put themselves at risk to bring those associated with criminal organizations to justice. "

- Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime Command

"The OPP remains committed and aggressive in its enforcement and eradication programs, which significantly impact the amount of marihuana available to organized crime groups. This helps to reduce crime and enhance public safety for the citizens of Ontario."

-- Det. Staff Sgt. Rick Hawley, Manager - Drug Enforcement Unit, OCEB

LEARN MORE

  • To view/download photos and video of marihuana grow-ops and OPP eradication, click here.
     

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SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information:

Contacts by OPP Region:

Central Region:     Constable Peter Leon     Phone: (705) 329-7414
East Region:     Sergeant Kristine Rae     Phone: (613) 284-4557
Northeast Region:     Det. Staff Sgt. Tony Fletcher    Phone: (705) 840-3063
Northwest Region:     Sergeant Shelley Garr     Phone: (807) 473-2734
West Region:                       Sergeant Dave Rektor                    Phone: (519) 652-4156

 


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