B.C.’s anti-gang unit dismantled a sophisticated underground grow-op adjacent to the Gloucester industrial area over the weekend which police say has ties to the Hells Angels.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, along with up to 100 officers from numerous police sections in Langley and Surrey, executed a search warrant for a rural property in the 27000-block of 56 Avenue, across the street from industrial buildings.
Three men and one woman were arrested at the scene. They were later released pending further investigation, said police.
Despite similarities, investigators don’t believe this underground grow-op, which had about 430 plants, is linked to the four grow-ops shut down last month in Mission. Both marijuana grows are tied to Hells Angels though, said police.
A search of the Langley property revealed five shipping containers buried underground where they housed a sophisticated bunker system. In this case, the property above the bunker was constructed to resemble a small hobby farm, complete with three sheep and one pig. In addition to the farm animals, a combination of about a dozen pit bull-type dogs and Chihuahuas were found. The dogs were taken by a family member of one of the people arrested, said CFSEU spokesperson Sgt. Lindsey Houghton.
“Each of the steel shipping containers had a doorway cut through it to make a continuous pathway that connected all of the containers as well as raised walkways so workers could easily walk through the bunker from container to container,” said Houghton.
The grow-op, which is believed to have been operating for at least a couple of years, was powered by an industrial-sized natural gas generator, similar to what was found in Mission, worth an estimated $100,000.
“To fuel the underground generator and further conceal the operation from the public and police, it was discovered, to the shock of the officers, that a nearby natural gas pipeline had been cut into and a bypass installed to redirect the gas to the generator,” he said.
As was the case in Mission, the perpetrators went to great lengths to conceal what they were doing. At the Langley property, the generator’s muffler was disguised from view with an old manure spreader placed over top of the muffler.
Officers discovered a loaded firearm in one of the bedrooms of the house on the property and seized about 1.5 pounds of dried marijuana.
“From trucking the containers in on flatbed trailers, to excavating massive holes, to needing a crane to lower the containers into the ground, and then having people get the grow-op up and running, this was a complex operation that required a great deal of planning and equipment. Make no mistake; however, this had the potential to be extremely dangerous to the public and emergency responders,” says Houghton.
Witnesses to the raid over the weekend reported seeing up to 100 officers on the property.
“The lengths that the people constructing these types of grow-ops will go to are alarming. In spite of their efforts to hide from the police, however, we will continue to target organized crime groups.”
A crane operator had to be hired to lift the containers and generator out of the ground.
“We relied heavily on the co-operation and assistance of contractors and heavy equipment operators, and the Langley Township Fire Department to help us at the scene,” said Houghton.
CFSEU-BC acknowledges the significant assistance it received from the Langley and Surrey RCMP detachments, the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, RCMP Air Services, and private contractors during the execution of this search warrant.