Thu, October 7, 2004
ONE HUNDRED police officers descended on the sleepy, lakeside community of Seymour Arm, B.C., on Tuesday, culminating a two-year investigation into what they are calling a sophisticated drug operation involving half of the town's 60 residents. Officers struck at 7 a.m., simultaneously executing 28 search warrants for 14 homes and 14 vehicles, said police spokesman Supt. Marianne Ryan.
Their targets were several large-scale, factory-sized marijuana grow-ops within a 4-km radius of the town. Many held up to 5,000 plants and had been operating in the rustic town for several years, police said.
By midday, 16 residents had been arrested, with more expected in the days ahead.
"The warrants were obtained after an extensive two-year investigation that grew out of complaints from residents unhappy with the number of growing operations in the area and complaining of violence, threats and intimidation," she said. "We've never seen anything like this before."
WORTH MILLIONS ON STREET
Seymour Arm is about 380 km northeast of Vancouver.
Investigators say the harvested marijuana, which was distributed to Vancouver, Calgary and the United States, was worth millions on the street.
The say the drug activity was linked to organized crime.
"This wasn't your typical type of organized crime. It works below the traditional level of organized crime. It's very sophisticated and very professional," Ryan said.
Sgt. John Ward said some officers were approached by residents and thanked.
"These people are really glad this is over," he said, adding police seized a number of firearms but would not elaborate.
Police searched targeted homes throughout the day. Large green bins, which would later store the plants and growing equipment, lined the town's dirt street.
Armed police officers stood at intersections and in front of the lone store, which had been closed for the winter.
"It's about time this happened," said Frank, who did not want to give his last name. "It's been going on for a long time."