Five large discoveries this month
IT seems Friendly Manitoba isn't friendly to big-time pot growers, RCMP said yesterday.
That's because tips from the public helped Mounties discover five separate huge outdoor marijuana grow operations in rural Manitoba this past month, the largest grows ever found in the province.
RCMP Drug Section Sgt. Dave Henry said the discoveries -- more the 40,000 plants were uprooted in total -- put a big dent in the marijuana trade.
"These are 40,000 plants that aren't going to make the street," he said. "It's sure dented the supply."
The most recent grow ops were found Thursday in back fields at out-of-the-way farm properties near Tolstoi and Ridgeville. Both towns are south of Winnipeg near the U.S. border.
At the Tolstoi grow, officers pulled up more than 10,600 plants, and the grow at Ridgeville yielded more than 6,000 plants. The other grows were found on farm fields near Oak Lake, Arden and Amaranth. Oak Lake yielded 13,200 plants, Arden 7,500 plants and Amaranth 4,400 plants.
At Tolstoi, police charged 42-year-old Ying Hui Fang of Gardenton with production of marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. He was released from custody and is to appear in Emerson court in November.
Henry said the five grows were found by police because of tips from the public who were suspicious of their new neighbours' behaviour. For example, their neighbours didn't associate with the community and did not seem to be farming, even though the land is usable.
RCMP then verified the information by flying over each property in a military helicopter.
Henry said anyone with information about a possible grow operation can call the nearest RCMP detachment. There is about a month left in the outdoor growing season for marijuana.
It's not just Manitoba that has seen the proliferation of big grows. Last month, RCMP in Saskatchewan found 7,592 marijuana plants growing in makeshift greenhouses on a farm on the Pasqua First Nation, about 20 kilometres west of Fort Qu'Appelle -- the largest seizure in that province's history. RCMP in New Brunswick have arrested one man following the discovery of a large marijuana plantation south of Fredericton. Police there found about 9,000 plants growing in a field in Fredericton Junction and 19,000 plants last Saturday in Adamsville, north of Moncton. That grow op was the largest in the Atlantic region.
Police believe growers have been putting in huge crops because of the payoff if they're lucky enough to harvest. It's estimated a mature marijuana plant at full bud is worth about $1,000.