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Creston RCMP bust 5,100-plant Riondel grow-op

A piece of the high-tech equipment used in the Riondel grow-op. - Shelley Livingstone photo
A piece of the high-tech equipment used in the Riondel grow-op.
— image credit: Shelley Livingstone photo

The Creston Valley and East Shore have never been known for boom and bust economies. But it was nothing but bust on May 6 when Creston RCMP took down what Staff Sgt. Gord Stewart said was the most sophisticated marijuana grow-op he’s ever seen.

RCMP officers and dogs executed a search warrant in the 600 block of Riondel Road in Kootenay Bay, where they found one house and one outbuilding completely converted to the purpose of growing marijuana.

“It was like walking into a factory,” Stewart said on Monday. “By any definition, this was a commercial marijuana factory.”

In what Stewart described as a “huge haul”, RCMP investigators seized 5,100 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, as well as a large amount of state-of-the-art equipment.

While the RCMP does not comment of values of drug seizures, other sources indicate that a single marijuana plant has an estimated $1,000 street value, making the ultimate worth of Friday’s bust worth more than $5 million.

“I’ve been involved in several hundred indoor grow investigations and I’ve never seen the level of sophistication present there,” Stewart said. “This search, together with the recent one in Falkland, certainly indicates the scale of this problem, even in rural B.C.”

The professional operation included eight self-contained hydroponic units, complete with grow lights and timers. The system was designed to produce compact plants containing buds that have the high THC content that the illicit drug trade demands.

Stewart said a 27-year-old male resident of the property was arrested at the scene. He now faces a number of charges, including production of a controlled substance.

 

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