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$18 Million Pot Seizure, Six Arrested

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by RMJL, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. $18 MILLION POT SEIZURE, SIX ARRESTED
    by Marcus Tully
    09 Sep 2003
    Peterborough This Week

    A massive pot bust at a Laxton Township property could have turned deadly very quickly after police confronted six armed men posing as police officers.

    On Sunday, members of the OPP Emergency Response Team ( ERT ) and the OPP drug enforcement section were conducting a search of a 15,000-plant marijuana grow off Kawartha Lakes Road 45 near Head Lake when OPP say six men dressed as police officers entered the grow site in a truck. Police say they were armed with handguns and one 30-caliber rifle, and were dressed in tactical police gear, including windbreaker-style jackets and shirts, marked with the word "Police."

    In addition to the clothing, police say the men were equipped with plastic badges and collapsible batons while one of the men wore a bulletproof vest.

    As the men were in the process of harvesting the plants, OPP say ERT members surrounded the men, leading to an armed stand-off before the men were taken into custody.

    No shots were fired during the incident.

    At a press conference outside the Coboconk detachment Monday, OPP Detective Inspector Frank Elbers of the OPP drug enforcement section said officers were aware of the grow beforehand but were surprised when the six men arrived on scene.

    "We were not aware the people would be showing up."

    He says the grow was arranged in two plots: one with about 4,000 plants and another of about 12,000 plants.

    The pot has a street value of roughly $18 million, OPP say.

    Deputy Commissioner Vaughn Collins, of the OPP's investigation and organized crime unit, says the confrontation could have turned deadly.

    "I expect they were seconds away from a gun fight that could have resulted in injury or even death to officers of members of the public."

    A section of Kawartha Lakes Road 45 was closed while police were on scene.

    Deputy ( Comissioner ) Collins said investigators are still looking into possible links to organized crime but notes it is difficult to imagine the grow not being associated with a crime ring, given the sheer size of it.

    The Head Lake grow is an example of the "proliferation" and increased violent nature of marijuana grows, he added.

    Police have still not said whether they believe the men grew the pot or were merely trying to steal it from another grower.

    "Our initial belief was that it was a rip-off attempt."

    Deputy ( Comissioner ) Collins noted it is virtually impossible for police to stay on top of grows in the province as criminals continue to receive relatively light court sentences compared to a high return on the crime.

    "There are so many of them, they're right in our face all of the time."

    He estimated roughly 15,000 large marijuana grows currently exist in Ontario alone, the majority indoors.

    Growers have been known to pose as police officers in other areas, the senior officer said.

    After the six men were taken into custody, OPP say members of the City of Kawartha Lakes detachment, the canine unit and the tactics and rescue unit searched the area to make sure no more suspects were on the property.

    A pick-up truck and a delivery van were also seized during the arrests.

    Gordon Churchill, 50, Jody Churchill, 26, and Nick Churchill, 29, all of Port Perry, and Shane Prince, 30, of Oshawa, Garfield Lefort, 27, of Port Perry, and Philip Weddel, 28, of Uxbridge are all charged with several drug and weapons offences as well as impersonating police officers. They were scheduled to appear in Lindsay court yesterday ( Monday ).

    Mr. Churchill was charged in February 2000 after OPP were tipped off to his Burnt River area property where police seized almost $250,000 worth of stolen property.

    The home was later seized under Proceeds of Crime legislation -- the first-ever time in Ontario.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin




    Pubdate: Tue, 09 Sep 2003
    Source: Peterborough This Week (CN ON)
    Copyright: 2003 Peterborough This Week
    Contact: newsroom@peterboroughthisweek.com
    Website: http://www.peterboroughthisweek.com/
    Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1794
    Author: Marcus Tully
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mjcn.htm (Cannabis - Canada)
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/raids.htm (Drug Raids)
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/af.htm (Asset Forfeiture)
     
  2. Wow, thats a ton.
     
  3. Good idea with the impersenating police officers. Try to think of all the grows and harvests that have gone successfully:D:D
     
  4. From 9-11-03...
     
  5. haha yes.

    That pisses me off to hear them say things like that. *punches computer screen* People involved with MJ are peaceful people. *kicks a small child* Theres no reason for stuff like that.
     

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