Article by Ellwood Shreve, Owen Sound Sun Times
The Chatham-Kent Police Service has taken down four large-scale cannabis grow operations in the last four months, seizing illegal plants worth an estimated $25.5 million.
But officials say this kind of policing on relies on communication and teamwork, and that includes residents reporting any suspicious activity.
Const. Renee Cowell, who services at the department’s communication’s officer, said signs of illegal marijuana growing operations include the odour of cannabis, as well as chemicals or soil being dumped around a property.
The grow operations dismantled by police found several thousand pot plants at three of the locations and nearly 500 plants at the other location. She said such activity requires a lot of soil and chemicals.
The 10 people who were arrested or ticketed all have home addresses outside of Chatham-Kent.
Other signs to look for include out-of-town contractors, usually from the Greater Toronto Area, who may have been hired to be on site in attempt to avoid detection of something illegal taking place, said Cowell.
“You may see newer or high-end vehicles on the property,” she added
Three of the illegal grow operations were discovered by police at buildings in Chatham, including two on Richmond Street and one on Grand Avenue East. The other grow operation was found at a greenhouse facility on Maynard Line, south of Chatham.
One reason Chatham-Kent might be a preferred location for this kind of illegal activity is the “numerous large industrial buildings that are sitting vacant here in Chatham-Kent,” said Cowell.
“These buildings and properties attract members of the criminal element to our area as they are willing to pay large amounts of money to rent/lease these buildings.”