Chilliwack RCMP officers descended in force on an Unsworth home late Wednesday after a passerby’s report of gunshots and suspicious activity, flushing seven men from the residence, all of whom were swiftly captured.
Four of the men arrested are Mexican citizens, and because of their current status in Canada, they will be released to Immigration officials.
Two of the seven are known to police, and it’s expected that three will be released later on Thursday.
Police said a large marijuana grow-op was found inside the residence, plus more than 40 lbs of clipped marijuana bud with an estimated street value of $90,000.
About 600 marijuana plants were also discovered with an estimated value of $150,000. A loaded prohibited handgun was also found in the residence.
“The residence itself contained reinforced doors, steel bars in the windows and very hazardous wiring throughout,” RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said.
There basement floor was covered in two inches of water, with wiring and outlets sitting in the water, she said.
The dozen police officers who responded to the 2:15 p.m. report – which included members of an Emergency Response Team, Police Dog Services and the Fraser Valley Traffic Services – were initially stopped by a heavily fortified gate at the 6868 Unsworth Road property.
Hollingsworth said after receiving the report, police set up a perimeter on the roads surrounding the property.
“We just kind of waited until we were all ready to go, and then we noticed the men running out the back of the house,” she said.
A footchase through the surrounding fields began, but all five suspects were soon in custody.
Staff Sgt. Marty Blais, head of the RCMP’s crime reduction unit in the Fraser Valley, said the officers “did an excellent job containing the area and protecting the public.”
The home was long-suspected as a “drug” house by some area residents.
RCMP Const. Bryan Martell, a member of the Chilliwack RCMP general investigative support team, said marijuana grow-operations “pose a significant risk to those who occupy them, and to the community around them.”
“Violence and weapons go hand-in-hand with the illegal drug trade, and the Chilliwack RCMP asks for (the community’s) continued support in combating this pervasive issue,” he said.
The city has now slapped a ‘No-Occupancy Order’ on the house under its anti-grow-op bylaw, and the electrical power supply has been shut off.