RCMP have arrested three men they said were discovered hiding in a secret compartment inside the walls of a marijuana grow-operation in a rural home just outside Quesnel, B.C.
Following an initial search of the log cabin, officers said they found more than 2,500 marijuana plants and growing equipment – but no people in the building.
The task force at the scene was made up of members of the Quesnel RCMP, Williams Lake RCMP and Prince George Police Dog Services.
After RCMP narcotics specialty dog "Baron" and his handler conducted a perimeter search and found no trace of anyone leaving the property, officers were confident that the suspects were still in the building. This led them to find a false wall in the cabin, which they opened up to uncover three men hiding inside. Once discovered, the suspects emerged with their hands up and surrendered peacefully, police said.
RCMP estimated that the drugs found in Tuesday's bust had an estimated street value of $2.5-million. They also seized a pickup truck that had been used to transport materials to support the grow operation.
This bust is an example of a growing trend of marijuana producers coming from other parts of the province to Cariboo District communities such as Quesnel, said Constable Lesley Smith, spokeswoman for the North District RCMP. Quesnel is a small city about 700 kilometres north of Vancouver.
"That's what we're seeing here in the north. We're seeing residents from the Lower Mainland buying properties up in the northern region, because our real estate costs less than the Lower Mainland and you're isolated in these properties," Constable Smith said.
The three men arrested, aged 34, 35, and 37, are all from the Lower Mainland, although Constable Smith would not say where. No names were released.
Constable Smith also praised Baron, who she said is a new recruit. "He's doing an amazing job, this dog. He's really smart."
The rural cabin was previously a family home. Stickers on one window indicated that it had once been a child's bedroom.
Tips from the public are vital for the success of the integrated task force that carried out this operation, said Constable Smith. She said that providing information to authorities is the community's way of fighting back against marijuana producers.
"There's a clear message from the north – they [grow-ops]are not welcome."