Blitz shuts down 18 grow ops

More than 20 charges have been laid against nine people after local enforcement officers targeted 18 marijuana grow ops in a three-day operation.

ALERT, Calgary police and RCMP work together in three-day sweep

Diane Colley-Urquhart, chair of the STOP Marijuana Grow-ops Calgary Coalition, speaks at a press conference about recent marijuana grow op busts. CBC

Local enforcement officers have pressed 22 charges against nine people after a three-day operation targeting 18 marijuana grow ops.

"Organized crime knows no borders, that's why we have to have such a broad view of how we are going to tackle this scourge that infiltrates our communities in the night," said Diane Colley-Urquhart, chair of the STOP Marijuana Grow-ops Calgary Coalition, at a press conference announcing the blitz.

The sweep was conducted by a special enforcement team consisting of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), Calgary police and RCMP.

"We have been laying the foundation for this type of operation in Calgary for some time," said officer in charge Insp. Kevin Forsen in a press release.

From Tuesday to Thursday, police seized more than 8,920 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and equipment used by organized crime groups in the production and trafficking of the drug.

A joint task force busted 18 marijauna grow ops, seizing roughly 9,000 plants. (CBC)

Alberta Health Services (AHS) inspected the properties and deemed 13 unfit for human habitation.

Forsen said it was the right timing for the operation because last week the RCMP launched a national initiative to combat the prevalence of marijuana production run by organized crime groups in Canada.

The Calgary blitz will be the first of many similar operations run by RCMP in conjunction with other policing partners across Canada.

"Marijuana grow operations harm communities. Wherever they exist, there’s an increase in criminal activity and a greater chance of fire, explosions and violence," said superintendent Eric Slinn, director of the national RCMP Drug Branch.

Back in 2009, the Calgary community of Citadel was devastated when an illegal grow operation caught on fire and damaged seven neighbouring homes. This summer, two house fires also broke out in Calgary that were concealing marijuana operations.

Last year, ALERT dismantled close to 200 grow ops in the Calgary area, seizing 69,981 plants. AHS deemed 151 of those grow operation locations unfit for human habitation.   

The ALERT team is also looking to the public to report suspicious activity or suspected marijuana operations. Contact Crime Stoppers with any information.