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Police bust grow op in Sooke
Pulling up to the property on Blythwood Road in Saseenos one is immediately aware of the skunk-like odour emanating from the two-level house. It is unmistakable — it's the smell of marijuana plants and specifically the THC resin.
On Wednesday, Aug. 10 RCMP responded to a tip and carried out a search of the residence and discovered 550 mature marijuana plants. The house was a grow operation and four rooms were being used to grow the plants. The basement was an elaborate labyrinth of large flexible tubes, lights and electrical panels. The upper windows were shrouded with heavy curtains and all of the windows were covered in plastic. The fire department was there because of the fire risk, to the house itself and the neighbouring homes.
The house, said RCMP, was not locally owned. Someone had been tending to the plants as there was food in the house.
Cst. Stacey Finlay, the lead investigator, said they had a 55-year-old Asian male from Richmond in custody.
"We received information from the community," said Finlay. "They recognized that something was wrong and called in the tip."
She had been through the house and her pants were sticky and covered with resin. She wore a face mask as the odour was so strong that they had placed fans in all of the grow op rooms to disperse the scent.
It was perfect example of a case where someone saw the windows, smelled the pot and phoned it in, said Sooke RCMP Staff Sergeant Steve Wright.
The huge issue is the clean up of the house, said Wright. There are costs from the police, fire department, BC Hydro and the cleaners. More if it is proven that hydro was being stolen.
The home owner will be responsible for a huge bill and it could cost up to $60,000 to to get the house back up to code, as happened recently to a grow op house on Grant Road.
There is also the issue of civil forfeiture of the house and grow operation equipment, because of the proceeds of crime.
Wright said they can make an application as the police are doing these types of seizures more often these days.
"This happens every day in rural areas," said Wright in reference to grow operations.
"We rely on the community," said Finlay.
The man in custody will be charged with cultivation, possession and possible power theft, and could stand to spend one year in jail.
The crop is estimated to be valued at $500,000.