Grow op linked two west end houses
PAWEL DWULIT/TORONTO STAR
Police found a marijuana grow operation, connected by a tunnel, in the basements of 16 and 18 King George Rd., above, near Weston Rd. and Church St. (Jan. 7, 2009)
Police say operation ran for nearly a year
Jan 08, 2009 04:30 AM
It was more Hogan's Heroes than Great Escape.
A metre-long tunnel dug to move marijuana between two west-end Toronto houses proved a comic failure this week as police swept in on both residences, busting two grow operations and seizing illegal plants worth $385,000.
However, the person who allegedly dug the short tunnel to shuffle illegal plants from one basement grow op to the other basement grow op remains on the loose.
While the suspect owns the two detached, brick homes built side by side in a subdivision near Weston Rd. and Church St., police said, he rents them out to families – new immigrants who have small children.
The suspect doesn't live there.
But, it does appear he is skilful with a jackhammer and knows his way around a construction site, police said yesterday.
"It's obvious that whoever built this has knowledge of the construction industry," said drug squad Det. Scott Matthews.
The operation was impressive. It ran undetected underneath these two quiet dwellings for close to a year before police got wind of what was going on.
The suspect closed off the basements in both homes – Nos. 16 and 18 on a small side street – and prohibited his tenants from accessing anything but their units.
A hole, just large enough for a small man to crawl through, was drilled in the wall of No. 16's basement. Police say earth between the two houses was dug out until the tunnel busted through the basement wall of No. 18.
Water and electricity lines were connected from house to house, and the tunnel was lined with cinder blocks and concrete. Police believe marijuana seedlings were incubated in one house, then moved to the other once big enough.
"The investigation is in its infancy," Matthews said. "We don't know if (the suspect) was selling."
The father of a young child who lives in one of the houses was irate yesterday.
"The drug squad came and kicked in our door and interrogated our family," he said.
Others who live in the houses did not want to comment, including representatives from Great Lakes Construction Co., which is listed at one of the addresses.
Property records show four people, with different names than those who renting the houses, are the homes' registered owners.
On Tuesday police seized the plants and related paraphernalia and cleaned up the two basements.
"It's safe now," Matthew said.
"The tenants have nowhere else to go."
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