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Pot bust the biggest ever in Saskatchewan

By Hempology | August 25, 2005

RCMP haul away nearly 7,600 marijuana plants valued at $7.5 M — Rare is the Saskatchewan farm truck that has carried a crop worth millions of dollars, but that’s what it took to haul away thousands of marijuana plants reaped in the province’s biggest pot bust.

Barb Pacholik
Saskatchewan News Network

August 23, 2005

“(It was) a very high-valued crop with lots of money and lots of work involved,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brian Jones told reporters at a news conference Monday.

Beneath a harvest moon one day earlier, RCMP officers finished counting and packing up 7,592 marijuana plants found growing in makeshift greenhouses on a farm on the Pasqua First Nation, about 20 kilometres west of Fort Qu’Appelle. A five-ton farm truck, borrowed from a local farmer, could hold only 6,000 of the leafy green stalks. The rest of the stash had to be carted off in another vehicle

“It’s certainly the largest illegal, marijuana grow operation in Saskatchewan,” said Jones. It’s closest rival in the province was 4,700 plants. The street value of this seizure is estimated at $7.5 million. “The rough estimate is that for every mature plant, they will realize a profit about $1,000,” he explained.

Six men ranging in age from 18 to 57 are in custody and due to appear in a Fort Qu’Appelle courtroom Thursday. Two are from the Fort Qu’Appelle area, one of no fixed address, two from Ontario and one from Indiana.

The pre-dawn raid found plants in various stages of maturity growing in seven tarp-covered, wooden structures that measured six metres by 60 metres. The structures not only trapped heat, but the covers could be removed so the plants could bask in Prairie sunlight. Some plants were also growing in an open field.

Any potential profit will soon be up in smoke. Police have already received an emergency destruction order to allow for the plants’ incineration.

The search was the culmination of a “short” investigation, lasting some months, said Jones. “It was people that were concerned about what was going on and information was forwarded to police and on that an investigation was undertaken and intelligence was gathered and led to the execution of the search warrant,” he added.

The search of two homes and several outbuildings also turned up 11 rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition. “Certainly, (there was) ammunition for those weapons, which speaks to the potential,” said Jones, who noted no weapons were fired in the search. “But one has to wonder why they were there, and certainly in the numbers that they were there,” he added.

The raid, which began at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, ended up involving about 25 officers after it gave way to a 9 1/2-hour manhunt. Three individuals who had been in “sleeping quarters” next to the grow operation fled into the heavily-wooded terrain. The search involved the use of an airplane, RCMP boat on Pasqua Lake, the RCMP emergency response team, and canine units.

The suspects were located at about 2 p.m. as they entered a home on the reserve to seek refuge.

The fruitful search allowed Bandit, an RCMP police dog due for retirement, to end his nine-year career successfully. “Bandit had a good day chasing some bandits,” said Jones.

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