Government sells two grow op homes

One home at 4740 Soucie Ave. home sold for $112,000 and another at 3515 King Ave. sold for $88,500.

TWO HOMES police said were the locations here for marijuana grow-ops have been seized and sold by the provincial government.

It’s the first time a law has been used here permitting the province to seize through civil court action and then sell property or items believed to be used for illegal activity or acquired through illegal activity.

But while the proceeds of seizures elsewhere have been put back into law enforcement or related operations, the Terrace seizures didn’t return a profit to the province.

One home was sold for a $1,000 loss and the other a $1,000 gain after respective sales costs, including paying down mortgages, were factored in, said an official from the provincial public safety ministry.

Tasha Schollen said the main motivation for the seizures through her ministry’s Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) was public safety.

“When there is strong evidence and strong public interest (safety concerns of the police and community) then the CFO will accept the file even knowing from the outset it will not be financially viable to do so,” said Schollen.

She stressed that any civil action through the forfeiture law is entirely separate from any criminal charges. The former concentrates on property while the latter concentrates on an individual or individuals.

“Specifically, civil forfeiture works to deter unlawful activity by taking away instruments used to further that activity, and the proceeds of unlawful activity,” she said. In civil law, one party’s case need only be more probable than the other, while in criminal the state must prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, Schollen added.

“All it means to the new owners is that they bought it (the residence) from the Crown,” said Terrace RCMP Constable Angela Rabut of how the homes are sold after being seized.

One home at 4740 Soucie Ave. home sold for $112,000 and another at 3515 King Ave. sold for $88,500, said Schollen.

On Jan. 27, 2009, police executed two search warrants for grow-ops: at the residence on Soucie Ave., officers found 26 pounds of harvested marijuana and a hydro bypass and at the King Ave. address, officers found 200 plants and a hydro bypass.

Criminal charges were not approved on the King Ave. bust.

Charges at the Soucie Ave. address were stayed one week before trial in September 2010.

The two houses were the city’s first successful civil forfeiture actions, but not the first in the northwest. Other forfeitures have taken place in  Smithers and Prince Rupert.

Revenues after expenses from forfeitures are paid into a special account and used to compensate crime victims, fund crime prevention programs, and pay for the costs of administering the act.