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Suspect in Pemberton grow-op identified

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Pemberton RCMP have identified a 42-year-old Coquitlam resident in connection with a marijuana grow-operation in the Pemberton Plateau area.

Van Do was due to make his first appearance in Pemberton Provincial Court on Dec. 11, but his lawyer appeared on his behalf. He’s now likely to face at least three charges in connection with the operation. Those charges include production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking and theft of a hydro charge, according to Sgt. Blake MacLeod with the Pemberton RCMP.

“Certainly someone involved in the process knew what they were doing,” he said.

Do was arrested on Oct. 17 after RCMP and the Pemberton Fire Rescue Service were called to a house in the Plateau in response to a residential fire. A fire wasn’t located at the scene but investigators later found about 2,000 marijuana plants. An RCMP Plainclothes Unit obtained a warrant, executed it immediately and seized the plants.

Do was later released after a Justice of the Peace hearing with several conditions. He’s scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 8.

Some of the plants will be stored and brought into court as evidence and the rest will be destroyed.

MacLeod couldn’t say how many grow-ops have been discovered in Pemberton.

“It does happen,” he said. “There are grow operations occurring in our community, and again that’s proven by the search warrants that we’ve done.”

Aside from the risks associated with smoking marijuana itself, MacLeod added that any grow-op can be a serious health risk.

“People don’t know what they’re getting,” he said. “Really it’s a forced process where they’re forcing the growth of this plant for financial gain. People say it’s a natural plant, but those are probably people who’ve never seen a grow operation in person.

“It’s not really a clean environment, but mostly, if I’m talking about the physical threat to public safety, it’s the electrical and hydro bypass.”

In the case of this grow-op, someone had re-routed an electrical line in a way that avoided a gas meter — effectively allowing them to get energy without having to pay for it.

“In effect what they do is they bypass the meter reader,” MacLeod said. “So they’re stealing, and that’s why that theft charge is there.

“That’s a great drain on (B.C. Hydro’s) resources certainly and their revenue, it’s a service provided that the people that are doing this aren’t paying for.”

MacLeod is now appealing to the public to help police in combating grow-ops in Pemberton. People are asked to call the local RCMP detachment or Crimestoppers if they suspect a grow-op in their area.

The RCMP are also seeking suspects in connection with a series of break-ins in the Pemberton Meadows area.

Four homes in the Meadows area were broken into between Dec. 9 and 12. It’s believed that all break-ins took place during the daytime. There was no forced entry as all homes were left unsecured, according to an RCMP news release.

Stolen items include a number of tools as well as a small amount of money and a bed, mattress, sheets and pillows.

Pemberton residents are now being urged to keep their doors and windows locked if they plan to leave their homes unattended. MacLeod is asking people to report any suspicious incidents to the RCMP immediately.

“Police officers, it’s not like we have better senses,” he said. “We would rather confirm that a person or an incident is nothing, than after the fact a couple days later, a week later, come upon, or have someone come home and find their place is broken into.

“It’s a really good community up here, a lot of people do have that sense of looking out for their numbers, but we just really want to encourage that and encourage contacting the police.”

Thus far the Pemberton RCMP has received some information regarding the break-ins but no arrests have been made.

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