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Police arrest 13 following raids on New Brunswick Marijuana Operations.

By admin | July 27, 2004

Canadian Press
by Kevin Bissett.

Mike Arsenault knew there was something strange about the posh house with the extra roof vents and permanently closed blinds.

He said he could sometimes smell the sweet, pungent aroma of marijuana around the Moncton home, but he never thought to call police.

On Tuesday, his suspicions were confirmed.

Thirteen people were arrested following raids on 14 homes in the Moncton area as part of an investigation into marijuana grow operations.

RCMP seized 5,100 plants and more than 31 kilograms of dried pot, Sgt. Gary Cameron said as he stood outside one of the targeted homes in an upscale neighbourhood bordering the Royal Oaks golf course.

The raids followed a three-month investigation.

As he looked on, Arsenault said the home had attracted his attention in the past.

“Even in the spring, you’d walk in the back on the course, and you never saw any blinds open,” he said. “Very suspicious to me were the two extra vents on the roof.”

Cameron said people should call police if they spot such activity.

“Skunky smells, a lot more ventilation on the house than a house would normally require, people coming into the home occasionally and only staying for short periods of time, the lots not being properly groomed,” said Cameron.

“These are all things that we want people – that once they notice that – to please make a call.”

Canadian marijuana production remains a persistent headache for police, with seizures of an average of 1.1 million plants annually in the last five years.

For some police forces, investigations into marijuana grow operations represent more than half their drug cases, says an RCMP report released earlier this year.

In Surrey, B.C., for example, there were 658 grow-ops reported to police in 2002 alone,

with officers executing search warrants at 156 of the homes.

In Winnipeg, 108 grow-ops were busted last year.

Meanwhile, police in Ontario believe 10,000 children are being raised in grow houses by people they call “gardeners” or “crop sitters,” and in some cases authorities have been called in to remove the kids.

The biggest risk such operations pose to the public is fire, power outages, poisonous gases and explosions.

Earlier this year, police in Barrie, Ont., discovered the largest marijuana grow house in Canadian history inside a former brewery.

In Moncton, the 12 men and one woman arrested Tuesday were expected to make court appearances Wednesday morning. All of them are from outside the province.

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be identified, said no one expects this type of crime in a well-to-do community.

“But it was probably smart on their part to do it in a neighbourhood like this.” she said.

Evidence was also taken from three homes in Shippagan, N.B.

Police said those homes did not contain drugs, but did have evidence connected to the Moncton operation.

Members from the Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration Canada and police in Hamilton, Ont., were also involved in the investigation.

Police said they believe all the marijuana was to be shipped out of New Brunswick.

Aside from the homes and a number of vehicles, police also seized close to $100,000 cash.

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