Large Marijuana Grow-op Ring Busted
Over the past year, the RCMP’s North District Drug Enforcement Section , North District General Investigation Section and the Williams Lake Detachment, with an integrated approach, investigated a series of marijuana grow operations in the rural community of Likely, BC, east of Williams Lake.
In this investigation, known as Project E-Pilch, search warrants were executed on eight properties in the small community. All of the properties are associated to the same, unnamed, organized crime group.
Summary of Search Warrants Executed:
- On September 12th, 2007, search warrants were executed on one property on Bootjack Forest Service Road and two properties on Likely Road. 18,367 marijuana plants were found on these three properties.
- On October 24th, 2007, search warrants were executed on two properties on Little Lake Road. 8290 marijuana plants were found on these two properties.
- On November 20th, 2007, search warrants were executed on three properties on Cedar Creek Road. 6662 marijuana plants were found on these three properties.
- All of the properties were found to be used in the cultivation of marijuana. A total of 33,319 marijuana plants and 11 kilograms of marijuana bud were seized from all eight properties.
Charged with Production of Marihuana and Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking are:
- Wai Kit CHEANG (also known as Peter CHEANG), 29 years of Port Coquitlam (two counts each charge)
- Thea OM, 30 years of Surrey, BC (two counts each charge)
- Phaly SOM, 37 years of Vancouver, BC
- Sam Oeun OM, 40 years of Coquitlam, BC
- Sao MEI, 41 years of Surrey, BC
- Dong Van TRAN (also known as Don TRAN), 52 years of Burnaby, BC
- Sam Ol OM, 40 years of Vancouver, BC (two counts each charge)
- Pauv SOM (also known as Paul SOM), 35 years of Surrey, BC
- Sophek HEL, 37 years of Surrey, BC
Each of the accused could face penalties of up to life in jail and the properties may be seized (see below).
Some further details about the investigation:
- Hydro consumption – Of the eight properties that were the subject of this investigation, some had several structures located on the property. On average, the buildings where the marijuana grow operations were found, consumed approximately 10 times the amount of electricity as an average single family residence. There was no hydro diversion on any of these properties.
- Structures – Several of the buildings that housed the marijuana grow operations were modified from their original state. In most cases, some type of addition was specifically built to grow marijuana. In addition, several large buildings with an average size of 6000 square feet, were recently built on some of these properties and specifically designed to house large scale marihuana grow operations.
- Criminal or Civil Forfeiture – Six of these eight properties have been legally restrained and the RCMP are seeking forfeiture of the properties to the Provincial Government. These properties will go through either a Criminal or Civil Forfeiture process and may be seized under the authority of the Criminal Code of Canada or the BC Civil Forfeiture Act.
- History – Previous to this project, the RCMP executed five search warrants on properties in the Likely area associated to the same organized crime group. These earlier warrants found 11807 plants, making the total amount of plants seized from this organized crime group to be 45,126 since the first warrant was executed November 22, 2006. Of these warrants, two men have been convicted of Production of a Controlled Substance and one property has been forfeited to the Provincial Government so far.
- Several courts cases are still pending. All the accused are scheduled to appear in Williams Lake Provincial Court on September 10, 2008. The court house is located at 540 Borland Street in Williams Lake.
The RCMP remain committed to detecting, dismantling and deterring criminal activities like marijuana grow operations in the communities we police. Our overriding goal is to ensure safe homes and safe communities for all Canadians. We believe that marijuana use and the criminality that surrounds it harms individuals and communities. The RCMP continues to fully enforce the laws against the production, importation, exportation, trafficking and possession of marijuana across Canada.
The results of this project and largely due to information received from the public. If you have any information on these or any other marijuana grow operation, please contact your local detachment of the RCMP or call Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS (8477).