Several seemingly legal medical marijuana grow operations have been shut down as part of a 'Green Team' initiative targeting marijuana operations in and around Kelowna.
The 'Green Team' executed 16 separate search warrants on homes and outbuildings on residential properties in Kelowna, Lake Country, Ellison and Joe Rich over a four week period during February and March of this year.
Of those warrants, seven were for marijuana operations with Personal-Use Productions Licences, however, Cst. Kris Clark says only one was found to be growing within their prescribed limit.
Clark says a number of medical marijuana grow operations, including some that were not searched, were found to be interconnected by an intricate web of personal associations and residential addresses.
Basically, Clark says there were a number of medical marijuana licences issued to people who appeared to be trying to mask what was supposedly a legitimate operation.
"They were trying to confuse law enforcement with all these multiple licences," says Clark.
"There are of course legitimate medical licences out there where people are under their amount and they are using it for the appropriate purpose. What we found was seven of the 16 were medical licences and all but one were over which is indicative of production and possession for the purpose of trafficking."
Clark says production of marijuana is well known to be one avenue organized crime uses to fund their operations.
"With the number of people involved, with the connections and criminal connections that we found, it really only takes three people to become organized. With the number of licences that were connected and over their allowed amount, it certainly does speak to some level of organization."
During the four week initiative, Clark says police seized a total of 10,063 plants, approximately 100 pounds of dried marijuana, more than 14 grams of heroin, six grams of crack cocaine, outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia, firearms, cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars work of grow equipment and offence-related property.
Clark couldn't provide a street value figure on the drugs seized but did say the drugs taken off the streets are significant.
"In the short term it has a ripple effect throughout the industry and we certainly saw that in the short time we had the 'Green Team' operating. In the first week, word on the street was already out," says Clark.
"Let's just say a lot of people were worried. It does make a dent."
He says in all cases, people were surprised when police came knocking, especially those with medical marijuana licences.
Clark says numerous people have been arrested, however, police are waiting for charge approval from Crown Counsel.
Meantime, one homeowner faces a hefty repair bill after the home he had rented to tenants was one of those raided during the 'Green Team' initiative.
Clark says the owner had not inspected the rental property during its current tenancy and now faces approximately $200,000 in repair costs before the home can be occupied or even sold.
A 'Do Not Occupy' sign has been placed on the front door and will remain there until the necessary repairs have been made and the home passes a number of inspections.
"There are a number of really good tips for landlords. The biggest one is to do a credit check - know who you are putting in there in the first place," says Clark.
"You have some rights given to you under the Landlord/Tenancy Act. Know your rights and make sure you are doing at least a monthly inspection."
Clark says it was obvious after taking a breath at the bottom of the driveway that something was going on that shouldn't have been.
For a list of Marihuana Grow Operations uncovered by the RCMP in BC click here.