CHESTERMERE – On Dec. 6 at around 10 a.m., members of the Chestermere RCMP executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrant at a residence located in the West Lakeview Circle area of Chestermere.
The warrant was for the production and possession of marihuana for the purpose of trafficking.
This is the seventh grow operation that the Chestermere RCMP has discovered this year, and Staff Sgt. Glenn Henry said that the situation with this residence was different than most of the ones they have discovered, as the person was actually residing where the grow op was taking place.
“It’s very common for the residences to be rented,” Henry said. “They will usually set up the grow op in the basement or elsewhere in the house, and someone will come by and check on it, no one will actually live there.
“That’s where you get some of the suspicious activity in the evening time when someone just drives in, the garage door closes, they’re there for a few hours, and then they leave.”
Henry said that the residences are typically unoccupied because of potential hazards like fires and because of C02 levels.
“In this case we have definitely linked a person to the residence,” he said. “Because he hasn’t been before the courts yet we can’t release his name, but he will be charged.”
The homeowner will be charged for various offences, including unlawfully producing marihuana, possession of marihuana for the purpose of trafficking, theft of electricity and theft of water.
He was released from custody and will appear in Provincial Court in Strathmore during the first week of January 2012.
Henry said that this discovery came from tips from the public, which he said have been increasingly helpful as more people become aware of what to look for and how to spot suspicious activity in their communities.
“The public is becoming more and more educated as to what to look for, such as moisture buildup in the windows or suspicious activity at their neighbors homes,” he said. “We will get a tip, then we will do our own surveillance and our own gathering of information as to who we’re dealing with, such as conducting background checks.
“At some point we will do checks of power supply, and if all indications are such that we believe it to be a marihuana grow op, we will write up a search warrant, and gain the authorization to go inside the residence. We are seven for seven so far.”
This search warrant was carried out by members of the Chestermere RCMP Detachment, who were assisted by members of the combined forces Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and the Calgary based Green Team South. Two Chestermere Community Peace Officers also assisted by conducting traffic check stops during the actual search warrant entry.
No one was found inside the home at the time of entry. Soil-based hydroponic grows –– with over 200 plants at various stages of growth – were found in the basement of the home. The seized plants are valued at around $290,000.
Henry said that it appeared there was a recent harvest of some of the marihuana prior to police intervention, and that the basement was fully equipped to support marihuana grows with 10 large grow lamps/shields and water/electrical bypasses.
An inspector from Alberta Health Services has since been to the home and declared it unfit for human habitation.
Henry said that the local RCMP continues to be successful because of tips from the community, but also because they work as a team. He said that more than one officer will write up the search warrant, and officers are designated to different duties each time a search is conducted.
“Everyone is getting the skill set on any of the tasks required,” he said. “We also get awesome support from the Green Team South, who come out and deal with taking of the exhibits.
“Without their help we wouldn’t be as successful.”
Like most of the searches conducted this year, this one was done during daytime hours. Henry said that this is a deliberate action, as it poses a lower risk to the community.
“Each situation has its differences, so we always do a risk assessment and make sure it safe for everyone,” he said. “We like our officers to go in during daylight hours so they’re not having to use flashlights in a foreign environment.
“All of those things are put into play, and we’ve been very successful.”
Henry said that it has been a busy year for the local detachment, and that finding grow operations in the community continues to be a priority.
“We have taken quite a few marihuana plants out of our community and we’re quite pleased with that,” he said. “We’re hoping the people who do this activity will take the hint that we’re effective at what we’re doing and that they should do it at their own risk.
“Lots of good work has been done this year, it shows that we’ve got some dedicated police officers here that care about the community. I’m very proud of our team and their efforts.”
If anyone has any information in this crime or any other please contact the Chestermere RCMP at (403) 204-8777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or through the internet at www.tipsubmit.com. Crime stoppers will pay cash rewards up to $2,000 for information that leads to an arrest, the recovery of stolen property or seizure of illegal drugs. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display and the identity of the caller will remain anonymous