Grow op blitz nets $17M
Authorities from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team have shut down nine Calgary area marijuana grow ops and seized an estimated $17M worth of pot.
The 18 month long investigation resulted in over 80 criminal charges being laid against nine people.
Several agencies assisted the ALERT team in this investigation including Calgary Police Service, Okotoks RCMP, and Strathmore RCMP.
Seven of the operations were based in Calgary while the others were in Okotoks and Strathmore.
Over 13,500 plants were seized along with 44 kg of harvested marijuana and growing equipment.
During the course of investigation, officers found that all the grow ops were a collaboration of work between of two organized crime groups. They believe that the two groups are also connected to two grow ops in rural Alberta in 2010.
"This investigation confirmed that most large marijuana grow operations are connected to organized crime," says Staff Sergeant Tom Hanson. "Nearly all of the properties had dangerously compromised electrical and natural gas utilities, exemplifying the hazards inherent in many grow operations we dismantle."
The true victims of these grow ops, however, are the landlords of the buildings that are involved in these crimes.
Rental agreements were filled out with fraudulent information including fake names and counterfeit identification.
Once the rental was secured, the property would be converted into a grow operation and extensive damage would be caused to the home as a result.
To make matters worse, insurance companies will not cover damages to a unit caused by these crimes. The cost of repairs is the sole responsibility of the owners.
Homeowners could also risk losing their property altogether if the property is seized as the proceeds of crime.
To protect themselves, landlords are urged to:
- Request references and contact those references.
- Confirm and record information on the identification provided by the prospective renter.
- Conduct frequent inspections of the property as per the Landlord Tenant Act.
- Request a security clearance or criminal record check from potential renters. The request alone may dissuade criminals from choosing your home. Security clearances can be obtained through any police agency for a minimal cost.
Between January and June of this year, ALERT'S Green Team South has seized more than 24,500 marihuana plants worth approximately $30 million.
To see a list of homes that were subject to a Health Inspection order visit the Alberta Health Services Environmental Health Home website.
For information and guidlines on remediation of a grow operation visit the Calgary Health Region's website.