Of 16 warrants executed on marijuana grow operations by the latest RCMP green team initiative in the Okanagan, seven were connected to medical grow operations.
And only one of those seven operations was found to be growing within its prescribed limits.
The one-month green team operation brought in 10,063 plants, approximately 100 pounds of dried marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine and paraphernalia from an outlaw motorcycle gang support cell.
But the most noteworthy find of the initiative was an intricate web of connections between medical marijuana owners which appeared to be masking illegal activity.
“It’s really difficult to go through in words. I could draw you a road map, but basically one guy lives here, he’s got a licence for somewhere else, then there’s three licences here and someone who lives here has a licence for somewhere else and it goes on and on and on,” said Kelowna RCMP spokesman Kris Clark.
“When you have a marijuana grow operation at your house already, it doesn’t really make any sense why you would have a licence for a different house when you live in the grow op,” said Clark, noting the number of plants is prescribed by need established by a doctor and written into the licence.
The web of growers and licences “really did seem (intended) to…confuse law enforcement,” Clark said, indicating all the charges to be laid have not been entirely sorted out yet; the growers lost their licences and their operational equipment in the searches.
There was also one operation with the paperwork to apply for a medical growing licence that had outlaw gang paraphernalia on site.
The green team’s efforts revealed just how important it is for landlords to regularly inspect their property.
A homeowner is facing a $200,000 bill as a result of the busts and his home cannot be occupied until it meets inspection. The house had holes in virtually every wall to run venting through, and there was extensive mold damage. RCMP said it would have been extremely easy for the homeowner to have noticed the problem before it got to that state as there was a pungent odour which could be smelt from the bottom of the driveway.
“In some cases, they do a very good job of containing that odour, but it is a very distinct odour and it is very difficult to contain.
“In a lot of cases, even if you just did a grounds inspection on your house, you would probably be able to smell it,” said Clark.
As it stands, the owner must do the repairs before he can even consider selling or leasing the home, effectively rendering the property valueless until such time as all of the mold and mildew is gone. He is not facing charges.
Clark said RCMP are still preparing all the charges associated with the cases and Clark could not say how many people were arrested as a result of the bust.