Big busts in rural Mission

Police forces take down state-of-the-art grow ops worth millions

Some of the most state-of-the-art grow-ops ever discovered were part of a major drug bust in Mission last Friday believed to be linked to the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, spokesperson for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C., said more than 10,000 marijuana plants at four rural Mission properties were discovered when the search warrants were executed early Friday morning. One of the properties, on the 13000 block of De Graff road in Mission, was concealed in an underground bunker that was disguised as a horse paddock.

“It was like a movie set,” said Houghton. “From the outside it looked exactly like a horse barn.”

However, once inside he said the grow-ops were equipped unlike many they have come across in the past.

“The resounding sentiment coming from the officers on site, who have as much as 10 and 20 years of experience, is that they’ve never seen anything as sophisticated as this system before. They officers were pretty blown away.”

The CFSEU, with support from the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, the Surrey RCMP, and the RCMP Air Services also raided properties on the 10000 and 14000-block of Sylvester Road, the 12000-block of Dewdney Trunk Road, and another in Langley.

Houghton said they believe the grow-ops have been in operation for several months and noted each was capable of producing as much 10,000 plants in about three months. He said the cash value of each operation was worth millions.

“These are not the classic marijuana grows in a closet in the basement or even ones seen in typical residential homes,” he said. “We are talking about large, highly sophisticated grows that are using the latest technology to boost the growing cycle as well as extremely high levels of security to keep the grow operation concealed from both the police and, more importantly from the grower’s perspective, from organizations that exist almost solely to steal or “rip” grow-operations.”

In addition to the 10,000 marijuana plants, there was about 200-pounds of dried marijuana seized with an estimated value as much as $10 million. They also seized  about $20,000 from the Langley raid

Houghton said the equipment used to produce the marijuana is estimated to be valued at $1 million. Each property was operated by a natural gas generator worth an estimated $100,000 each. With enough power to provide power to “a small town,” Houghton said  the generators had to be removed by a large crane.

Two men, a 33 and 32-year-old, both of no fixed address, were arrested trying to flee the De Graff Road bunker on foot but were quickly caught by RCMP Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team members. A 33-year old Burnaby man was also taken into custody inside the 14000-block Sylvester Road grow-op without incident. A 34-year old man of no fixed address was caught trying to run from the 10000-block Sylvester Road grow-op by ERT members with the help of an RCMP K-9 unit. All of those arrested were released from custody and drug-related charges are being considered.