A massive police crack-down on outdoor marijuana grow-ops this summer saw RCMP seize 14,130 pot plants from 88 sites throughout the region.
Inspector Nick Romanchuk said the investigative team even included an RCMP helicopter from Kelowna.
“Based on a conservative estimate, it is believed that these seizures prevented approximately 11,500 pounds of marihuana bud from entering the illegal market,” he explained. “This amount of marihuana would produce approximately 15.5 million marihuana cigarettes.”
He said that, at wholesale prices and based on the current value of marihuana bud in the West Kootenay, the value of the seized marihuana would range from $14.9 million to $36.7 million. The street value of the seized marihuana, if sold in individual cigarette quantities, would equate to approximately $77.5 million.
“The majority of the marihuana was seized from Crown land,” Romanchuk added. “It is well known that the profits from the illicit marihuana industry fuel the activities of organized criminal groups that bring untold harm, pain, and suffering to our communities.
“The regionalization of policing services in the West Kootenay/Boundary have allowed us to utilize our resources more effectively to target organized criminal activity.
“It is no secret that criminal activity does not restrict itself to municipal boundaries or electoral areas. While a criminal group may reside in one location, the effects of that group’s activities will have a far reaching impact on surrounding communities.
“By structuring the police resources in the West Kootenay/Boundary to fall under one command structure we are able to more efficiently target those organized crime influences on our communities.
Romanchuk said at least six people will likely be facing charges of production of a controlled substance.