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Major pot bust at old Port Hope file factory

Police seized nearly two million dollars worth of marijuana in a sophisticated grow operation inside the former file factory on Cavan Street.

One person was arrested at the scene as officers executed the warrant around 4 p.m. Monday.

A total of 1,824 marijuana plants were seized worth an estimated value of $1.8 million.

“You never expect to find a grow op of this magnitude,” said Port Hope Police Acting Sgt. Mike Powell.

Inside, there were three rooms with state of the art growing equipment including lighting, timers, hundreds of ballasts, hoses attached to each plant, fans, barrels of water, mylar surrounding the grow rooms, an elaborate security system with infrared cameras around the building and thousands of pot plants.

“All the room were decked out.”

The growing equipment has a value of approximately $150,000.

It was clear to police it was a work in progress as other rooms were in the process of being hooked up as grow rooms for the marijuana.

“It appears from the level of sophistication these persons involved have done this before.”

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Wheeler and building inspector Ken Andrus were called to the scene concerning the fire and building safety.

“They (suspect) did a lot of work reinforcing floors.”

“There would be hundreds of hours just to set up the rooms for the grow up,” said Act. Sgt. Powell.

“It was a one hundred percent ongoing project.”

Powell said “we’re not immune to any criminal activity,” adding, “it was a heck of an opportunity for somebody.”

Councillor Jeff Lees was helping hang Christmas wreathes downtown when word started circulating about the pot bust Tuesday morning.

“We’re shocked that this happened so close to the downtown.”

“It’s amazing the criminal mind trying to be ahead of the system.”

Lees said during the meetings regarding policing recently that “people said nothing ever happens in a little town. What’s the big deal? This is a prime example of what’s going on in these small towns, and it’s not just Port Hope.”

Lees speculates that because the vacant building was under renovation, nobody questioned the ongoing maintenance.

Sabrina Wakely has lived across the street from the former file factory for five years and although she thought it was suspicious when she saw the security cameras going up, she was amazed at the level of the grow operation when she saw the pictures.

“I knew there was something fishy going on, but I didn’t think it was that magnitude.”

“That’s quite the operation they pulled off.”

Over the years, she’s heard rumours of old cars or something of value inside the abandoned building.

“I just thought they were trying to prevent people from going in there, which they obviously were, but for different reasons.”

A 24-year-old Toronto man was arrested at the scene and charged with production of marijuana, possession and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

He was released on a promise to appear with a court date of Jan. 18, 2013.


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