Judge blasts armed pot grower

Police were called to a rural area of 60 Avenue in April

A 53-year-old Langley man who was arrested after police followed a bloody trail down a rural road to an indoor marijuana grow operation will serve more than three years in jail.

Zane Soper was charged with production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, unauthorized possession of a firearm, storage of a firearm and possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition after the April 2010 incident in rural Langley.

At the time, police said it appeared Soper was defending his grow op against an attempted robbery when one of the intruders was injured.

Investigators uncovered 500 pot plants in a house near 60 Avenue and 253 St. after a report of suspicious men in the area on a Monday morning.

Neighbours reported seeing blood on the road, but Langley RCMP were unable to locate the injured person.

Soper pleaded guilty to production of a controlled substance and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

At the sentencing hearing, Surrey Provincial Court Judge Ellen Gordon tore a strip off Soper.

“With respect to the gun charge, sir, the members of this community are terrified,” Gordon told Soper.

“They are terrified that there are people who have guns on their couch that are loaded and that they use them, and people are walking the streets with that fear. And sometimes people think, well, that is a fear that is unnecessary, and then the Mr. Sopers of this world prove that it is necessary. I have to send you to the penitentiary, sir. It is a terrible crime.”

She gave him three and a half years for the weapons charge, saying it would have been a “double-digit” jail term if Soper had been a gang member.

Judge Gordon also ruled the eight months Soper had already spent in jail since the grow op was discovered would be his sentence for the illegal production charge. She also imposed a lifetime ban on weapons ownership.

Details of the Dec. 14, 2010 judgment were posted to the B.C. provincial courts website on Monday, Feb. 7.