In the past number of weeks Perth County OPP have responded to suspicious persons/vehicle calls in rural and isolated areas that have led to officers finding marijuana plants and evidence of grow-ops.
As the annual marijuana harvest period approaches in Perth County, the OPP are reminding residents and visitors of the dangers associated with outdoor grow-ops. Typically, marijuana crops will be harvested starting as early as late August up until the beginning of October. During this period, people involved with growing the drug head into rural areas to continue to care for and harvest, in some cases, very large plots of plants.
Typically, these illicit crops are located in swamps, corn fields, wooded areas, along rivers near bridges and on rural, rental properties with large acreage. The numerous public safety risks include the potential presence of weapons and ammunition found on grow-op sites, and the potential for booby traps, rigged by the criminals to defend their illegal crops from other criminals known as “pot pirates.”
All of these factors could lead to dangerous confrontations for unsuspecting, innocent people – including children – who just happen to be in the area. Another risk the OPP want to highlight is environmental. These criminal operations usually involve the unregulated use and disposal of many chemicals and other environmentally-damaging products. Marijuana grown in Ontario is typically distributed throughout the province and exported to the United States.
Stronger drugs, such as cocaine, as well as weapons and cash, often return to Ontario to fuel other criminal enterprises, which further endanger public safety. Marijuana plants are bright green in colour and grow to between three and five feet in height. Their leaves have seven jagged fingers and the plants give off a strong, pungent, musty odour.
Common indicators of outdoor marijuana grow operations include: abandoned vehicles parked on side roads or trails, people walking in remote areas for no apparent reason, bags of fertilizer, planting trays or chemicals located in remote areas, and well-trampled trails in wooded or swamp areas, cleared out areas in swamps, wooded areas or corn fields.