Last week, RCMP entered a home in Botwood and seized over 100 marijuana plants in what police called a significant bust for the region.
For several weeks prior, the Grand Falls-Windsor District RCMP had been investigating the suspected marijuana grow operation at the residence.
On April 24, with the assistance of the Police Dog Services, the RCMP Forensic Identification Section, and the RCMP Corner Brook Drug Sections, the Grand Falls-Windsor RCMP executed a search warrant on the home and arrested 38-year-old Wayne Herman Budgell under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
The Botwood man was charged with production of cannabis marijuana, and was later released on a promise to appear in Grand Falls-Windsor Provincial Court on June 26.
Two females, who were inside the residence at the time the search warrant was executed, were arrested and released at the scene. A male, who showed up at the scene shortly after, was also arrested and has been charged by the Grand Falls-Windsor RCMP.
"Generally, we value a marijuana plant in terms of what it could produce when sold on the street," said RCMP Corporal Chad Norman. "It usually goes for 15-20 dollars a gram, so we generally value a plant at approximately $1,000."
While Cpl. Norman said there's no guarantee the plants sized would produce that much, that valuation system puts Tuesday's bust at potentially $100,000.
Cpl. Norman said aside from adding to the crime rate in a community, marijuana grow operations can also pose health hazards to those living in and around the property.
"When we go into such a residence we have to benefit from people with specific training, because marijuana grows in a situation that encourages mold growth that can be hazardous." said Cpl. Norman. He added that the makeshift heating and light systems often used in grow operations can also be a safety hazard.
During Tuesday's bust, a specially trained individual was brought in to dismantle the operation safely.
Drugs always a problem
This isn't the first big bust in the Exploits region in recent months, in February an individual was arrested after three pounds of marijuana was found in a residence on Brown Avenue in Grand Falls-Windsor.
And it's not just pot, last week a 44-year-old man was arrested after being stopped on Cromer Avenue when police found a quantity of cocaine and contraband tobacco in the vehicle. As of press time police were still contemplating charges.
"It was not a large amount of cocaine, but it was in a sufficient enough quantity and in such a form that our investigators felt it was for trafficking, so that's the charge being contemplated," said Cpl. Norman.
While Cpl. Norman said there generally aren't any more instances of drug-related crime in the Exploits region than other regions of the province, all drug use hurts the community.
"It's a problem because it encourages crime," he said. "In a lot of cases we see, like break and enters and thefts, it's to support drug habits"
Cpl. Norman added that it's not just illegal drugs, but prescription drug addiction that causes a lot of issues.
"Drugs are a problem, wherever they are."