Winnipeg police bust marijuana grow-ops worth $2.4M

Winnipeg police have busted two million-dollar marijuana grow operations.

Three people facing marijuana production, possession charges

This home at 35 Burnhill Bay was one of two million-dollar marijuana grow operations police raided this week. (Sara Calnek/CBC)
Two men and one woman are facing charges after Winnipeg police busted two million-dollar marijuana grow operations.

On Wednesday, officers seized more than 2,000 marijuana plants from two homes — one on Burnhill Bay in the Richmond West neighbourhood and one on Southbridge Drive in the Southdale Estates area.

Two men, aged 43 and 52, and a 49-year-old woman are facing charges of producing and possessing marijuana as well as theft of telecommunications.

Police said the two cases, worth a total of $2.4 million, are linked.

Neighbours 'shocked'

Neighbours on both streets said older couples were living in the homes and moved in around three years ago.

At the Burnhill Bay house, police seized:

  • 1,006 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $1,126,720.
  • 100 grams of dry marijuana with an estimated street value of $1,000.
  • Grow operation equipment valued at $22,000.

Lorraine Bohemier lives on Burnhill Bay and said she was shocked when police stormed her quiet street Wednesday.

"There must have been like six cops that came out of the house," said Bohemier. "They looked like a swat team and got back in the van."

Bohemier said nothing like this has ever happened in her neighbourhood.

"We have a fabulous bay and we are all still just shocked by this," said Bohemier. "I don't even know who lived there."

Alana and Stephen Kernaghan have spent the last 48 hours watching police tear apart the Burnhill Bay house across the street from them.

At the Southbridge Drive house, police seized:

  • 1,075 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $1,204,000.
  • 109 grams of dry marijuana with an estimated street value of $1,090.
  • Grow operation equipment valued at $23,000.

"I was surprised," said Stephen, "It's a quiet street — lots of families, not the sort of thing you expect to see going on here."

Despite the busts, the Kernaghans said they're not worried.

"I would've been more bothered if it had been some other drug," said Stephen. "If it had been meth that would've been more dangerous, but still, it's a little disconcerting."

Grow-op hazards

According to Const. Eric Hofley, however, people should be concerned if a grow-op sprouts up next door for a variety of reasons.

"The possibility of people coming to rip that place off either ... the plants or perhaps drug money is there," said Hofley.

Sophisticated grow-ops often have illegal hydro hook ups that can start fires. In both the Burnhill Bay and Southbridge Drive instances, hydro and water were being stolen, police said.

Sometimes noxious gasses can build up that can cause explosions, too.

Hofley said grow-ops can pop up anywhere.

"A few years ago we did have a rash of [grow-ops that were] certainly in nicer neighbourhoods and larger homes and that sort of thing," said Hofley. "I can't think of anything very recently but it's not uncommon."

Alana Kernaghan said she noticed a strong smell coming from the home.

"I assumed it was some kid, but it always smells like marijuana very strongly — like very potently."

Police said some of the telltale signs of a grow-op are extra condensation on windows, homeowners that are rarely home or a strong odour — like the one Alana Kernaghan picked up on.