A massive marijuana growing operation raided Thursday may be the biggest ever uncovered in the province's history, Prince George RCMP said Friday.
The grow-op had 18,000 plants in 20 greenhouses set up on a rural property purchased just last fall solely for purpose of the production of marijuana, Const. Lesley Smith said in an interview. I know it is one of the largest ever in B.C.
Three men made their first court appearance Friday afternoon in connection with the bust. Bing Lung Wong, 37, of Vancouver, and Quebec residents Ye Zhi Qiang, 41, and Khue Ba Vu, 37, are charged with production for the purpose of trafficking.
Wong already has a trafficking conviction in Surrey, dating back to May 1999. None of the three men owns the land.
Smith said the tents set up on the property indicate a larger crew was based at the grow-op than the three men arrested.
She said local investigators believe the grow-op is linked to others around B.C., though she could not provide more detail.
Every marijuana grow-op is linked to an organized crime group, she said.
Police have been uncovering increasingly larger and more sophisticated grow-ops -- often in remote areas accessible only by logging road.
Just last week, Quesnel RCMP announced a raid on their biggest grow-op ever targeted -- 10,000 plants on a remote rural property about two hours northwest of Quesnel and accessible by logging roads.
Staff Sgt. Dave Goddard, of the RCMP's Greater Vancouver Drug Section, said earlier this month that organized crime groups are moving to more remote areas of B.C. to produce larger quantities of pot off police radar.
They are doing everything possible to avoid detection, he said .
Prince George investigators estimated the pot from their haul to be worth more than $2 million.
The elaborate set-up was found on a rural property in the Eaglet Lake area about 40 kilometres east of Prince George.
The greenhouses had two industrial size heaters and two power generators, which police also seized.
The property was being used solely for the production of marijuana and a number of tents were located to house the individuals tending to the crops, Smith said.
Police had a search warrant for the property and attended with Prince George Emergency Response Team members, the local RCMP Drug section, Police dog Services, a helicopter unit and general duty members.
The ERT was flown in first. They were able to secure the area, Smith said.
She released an RCMP video showing her doing a walk-through of the greenhouses as police cut down some of the plants and outside one of the army tents that housed the caretakers. It showed two of the accused being led to an RCMP helicopter, their heads covered. One was wearing camouflage.
It is going to take a lot of hours of resources which we are using at this time, but it is also going to take a substantial amount of marijuana off the streets, Smith said.
By KIM BOLAN, VANCOUVER SUN
May 29, 2010
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