March 04, 2005

RCMP: 4 Officers Slain -- Grow-ops, Major Organized Crime, Massive Amounts of Money bring Incomprehensible Violence

Shootings were inevitable, top drug officer says -- No 'ma and pa' operations: Most operators have criminal history, many of them violent Nicholas Kohler, National Post, with files from CanWest News Service, Mar. 4, 05 -- worth reading in its entirety.

[. . . . ] Insp. Nadeau, who heads the RCMP Co-ordinated Marijuana Enforcement Team in British Columbia, took pains last night to distinguish grow-ops from the "mom and pop" garden operations of the popular Canadian imagination.

In fact, the 4,500 grow-ops reported in B.C. alone each year are booby trap-ridden, gang-run dens of peril, where officers encounter the jolt of live electrical wires connected to door knobs, basement stairs descending into pitch black dark with missing steps and noxious chemicals either deliberately or accidentally left to simmer fumes. [. . . . ]

Search: amateur wiring, the operators, criminal history, residential districts

Also read the article by Jonathan Kay, Why the war on drugs can never be won

Grow-ops a 'plague' on society -- RCMP chief: 'Four of our own paid the highest price to fight this fight' Ian Bailey, with files from Lindsay Kines, CanWest, Mar. 4, 05

[. . . . ] Neil Boyd, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., who specializes in drugs and violence, said, "Most people involved in the marijuana grow-op would never contemplate killing four police officers or shooting at them. "It doesn't advance their interests. This is an abnormality."

However, he admitted that the larger the clandestine operation and the greater the profit at risk the higher the likelihood of violence. It's also not unheard of to have people armed with knives, guns and baseball bats on site to keep their illegal and lucrative product safe. [. . . . ]

[. . . . ] "This incident serves as a poignant reminder of the men and women in law enforcement across our country who risk their lives daily." - federal Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

[. . . . ] "We don't solve anything in society by legalizing things or by pretending they're not harmful to society." - RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, on the issue of decriminalizing marijuana.

4 Mounties slain in drug raid Bob Weber,
[. . . . ] "They were not going into a potential armed conflict," said Oakes. "They were guarding a scene."

Suddenly, two officers from the RCMP auto theft unit who had just arrived heard gunfire in the hut. The male suspect came out and fired at them, then retreated back inside. [. . . . ]

Search: Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, "Nick Taylor, former senator and one-time leader of the Alberta Liberals.", key events in the fatal shooting, list of some of the other Canadian police officers known to have died on the job since 2000

Community reeling over shootings John Cotter, Mar. 3, 05

[. . . . ] Mounties from the Mayerthorpe and Whitecourt detachment are heroes to the boy, who suffers from bone cancer, said David Price.

Just before Christmas, nine officers shaved their heads in support of Connor and to help raise $10,000 dollars so his family could travel to Edmonton to be with him when one of his legs was amputated.

"They rallied behind my son. The money was a godsend because I haven't worked in seven months," said David Price.
[. . . . ]

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan will consider what MP Dan McTeague is suggesting -- mandatory minimum sentences for those involved in grow-ops. What does that mean?

Renewed debate over grow ops Sue Bailey and Bruce Cheadle, Mar. 3, 05

[. . . . ] The RCMP deaths are sure to inflame debate this weekend at the Liberal gathering, where two resolutions dealing with pot laws are on the agenda.

[. . . . ] marijuana legalized and taxed. . . . . stiffer sentences for those involved in grow ops.

[. . . . RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli] "The issue of grow ops is not a ma-pa industry as we've been saying for a number of years. They are major, serious threats to our society and they are major, serious threats to the men and women on the front line who have to deal with them. . . . major, organized crime in many cases is involved. . . . so violent it's almost incomprehensible

[. . . . ] "When you have people that are promoting the issue of 'safe' drugs, or that there are harmless drugs, I think that is something that we better understand is not the right way to go." [. . . . ]

Legalize pot, says Liberal Joan Bryden, Mar. 3, 05

One group at the Liberal convention in Ottawa wants to legalize pot and tax it which would remove the financial incentives to organized crime. Of course, there would still be the incentive to grow it illegally to transport into the US and to sell for cocaine. There is already legislation proposed to decriminalize small amounts.

[. . . . ] The legislation, reintroduced in November, would make possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana punishable by a fine of $150 for adults and $100 for minors.

It also proposes that growers caught with more than three plants face up to five years in jail, or 18 months plus a $25,000 fine. Anyone with more than 25 plants could face 10 years in jail and growers of more than 50 plants would face a maximum sentence of 14 years. [. . . . ]

Dangers of marijuana grow-ops

[. . . . ] Staff Sgt. Birnie Smith of the Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team . . . .

[. . . . ] it's organized crime . . .

[. . . . ] we've encountered booby traps, not always intended for the police. There's also the hazards of the poor wiring and other dangers inside. It's a very dangerous kind of job to take on."

[. . . . ] "Once you're inside, we've encountered booby traps, not always intended for the police. There's also the hazards of the poor wiring and other dangers inside.
[. . . . ]

Liberal MP Dan McTeague said in Ottawa that one way might be to rewrite pot legislation currently before Parliament to include mandatory, minimum four-year sentences for marijuana growers.

That last suggestion is one our Deputy Prime Minister will "consider" but I doubt it will go anywhere. This government has been aware through several reports that the grow-ops are extremely dangerous for many reasons and that sentencing is generally inadequate. Criminals even operate here as opposed to in the US because the punishments are so inadequate -- sort of a cost of doing business.

"as many as 10,000 children are believed to be living in grow-ops in Ontario"

RCMP try to curb growth of marijuana grow-ops CanWest, Mar. 3, 05

[. . . . ] Often, the homes are left severely damaged with mould and rot because of the high humidity. Their reconfigured furnace vents create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and illegal wiring can be a fire risk.

Repairing the damage can cost tens of thousands of dollars and officials at the Insurance Bureau of Canada say most policies will not honour a claim for damage caused by a grow-operation, even if the owner was an innocent party and the activity occurred without his or her knowledge.

[. . . . ] In some provinces, police are even instructing teachers to be on the lookout for children who may be living in grow-ops.

In B.C., it’s estimated there are 10,000 to 15,000 grow-ops in the province, with up to 3,700 children believed to be living in them, while as many as 10,000 children are believed to be living in grow-ops in Ontario, according to a 2003 Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police report titled Green Tide. Children are found in one of every four homes busted in that province. [. . . . ]


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