RCMP have busted 38 marijuana grow operations from January to July in West Kelowna.
This number is just below the total of 43 grow ops busted in all of 2010.
“Basically we have been very consistent over the last few years with multiple search warrants executed each month,” said Kelowna RCMP Sgt. Ann Morrison.
On July 19, West Kelowna RCMP executed a search warrant in the 2500 block of Boucherie Road. The bust found 731 mature marijuana plants and an illegal electrical bypass.
The consistent numbers associated with the grow ops makes it clear homegrown marijuana is an ongoing problem in West Kelowna.
“I’d like to say that we’re doing more than just scratching the surface,” said Morrison.
“I think any grow op that we bust is a disruption in production of marijuana, whether it’s direct or indirect.”
Morrison said that West Kelowna RCMP has intelligence on a number grow ops; however, they are not able to gain search warrants in every case for a variety of reasons.
“These investigations are quite complex and they’re quite time-consuming,” Morrison said.
“We always ask for public information and intelligence to help us gather the evidence necessary to do a search warrant.”
The operation of taking the marijuana grow operation down is extensive as well.
“It requires a team of individuals to (bust a grow op). Depending how big the grow operation is (determines) how many people will be assigned to it. With hydro bypasses and those type of things, it is quite dangerous. Sometimes it’s not only our officers involved or in jeopardy, it could be other workers (such as) Fortis or B.C. Hydro employees.”
Morrison said that the situation can be complicated when children are involved as well.
According to Morrison, more search warrants could be granted with the acquisition of a “green team,” solely dedicated to busting grow ops.
“Our hope is to have a full-time unit for West Kelowna and Kelowna. We know that there is enough work out there to justify the existence of one.”