RIMBEY — RCMP may have found the biggest marijuana grow operation ever in Alberta at a farm near Rimbey.
Rimbey RCMP and the joint RCMP/Edmonton Police Service Green Team found 2,325 marijuana plants in various stages of growth inside a large pig barn on the property on Monday.
Police say it appeared that this represented about half of the operation at the sophisticated grow op. The other half had apparently already been harvested.
“This is one of, if not the largest. We’ve had them around the 1,000-plant level previously,” RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes said on Wednesday.
Police executed a search warrant in relation to alleged electrical power theft at the farm, which is located about 19 km west of Rimbey and about two km south on Range Road 44.
Medicine Valley Pork is posted on a sign outside the grow op that was disguised as a working pig farm, with no trespassing signs as part of a “biosecurity and quality assurance program.”
The property had about two dozen sheep and two lamas grazing, two large buildings, the hog barn, several silos and a house.
About $30,000 worth of cannabis production equipment was also found at the site.
On Tuesday, police executed a search warrant at two residences in Red Deer and a warrant has been issued for a 28-year-old male.
Police have not yet identified him but he is being sought for offences in relation to power theft, production of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for the purposes of trafficking.
Oakes said there was no way to tell if the plants — equal to 1,162,500 joints or marijuana cigarettes — would have been exported out of the province or sold in Alberta.
“If this was destined for Alberta, the potential was there that this could have yielded approximately just over 1.1 million joints. We now have great comfort in knowing that amount of drug will never pose a risk of harm to Albertans.”
On average, a fully mature plant is capable of producing up to 500 joints.
Police say illegal drugs impact communities at many levels — addiction, negative impact on families and friends of users, family violence, crimes against other persons, loss of productivity for employers, criminal activity such as robbery, break and enter, thefts, property crime and aspects of organized crime.
The investigation continues. Anyone who may have information can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
“If anybody has information or suspicions of a similar type operation going on in their neighbourhood, a call to your local law enforcement agency or Crime Stoppers would be very much appreciated,” Oakes said.