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Top Stories of 2011: Second-largest grow-op bust in Chilliwack history brings house arrest

Five of the six workers caught in the second-largest marijuana grow-op bust ever made by Chilliwack RCMP were sentenced to 12 months under house arrest by a provincial court judge in April.

One of the six received a longer, 18-month conditional sentence, because of an earlier marijuana conviction.

Judge Jill Rounthwaite said conditional sentences are considered a “slap on the wrist” by the public, but she called these “significant” in their terms and in the possibility of going to jail, if the conditions are breached.

The terms include a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, 25 hours of community service work, and a ban on possessing high-intensity light bulbs or other marijuana grow equipment.

The judge also took into consideration the guilty pleas entered by the six, which saved the court the costs of a trial, and their low-level status in the grow operation.

The owner of the grow-op has never been found.

The six testified that they were paid $10 an hour to clip and water the 4,776 marijuana plants that police found in two out-buildings of the Nixon Road property on Sept. 10, 2009.

Police estimate the owner of that grow-op was making $1.8 million every three months.

Police investigators basically stumbled upon the grow-op while investigating an even larger, more sophisticated, underground bunker-style operation next door where 11,500 marijuana plants were found.

The owner of that grow-op, valued by police at over $3-million, has also never been found. A 61-year-old man was arrested at the site, however, and was charged with production of marijuana for trafficking purposes.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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