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NEWS RELEASE · 11th January 2011
Ministry of Public Safety
A former grow-op has become the most valuable Vancouver house forfeited to the Province, capping its most successful year of civil actions that have mostly targeted the property of gangs and organized crime, Solicitor General Rich Coleman announced today.

"More and more people who pursue unlawful activities are losing a lot for doing so, and this is one more way we're making gang life less attractive and organized crime unwelcome in B.C.," said Coleman. "More than $600,000 was forfeited to the Province in this case - and that's just a small part of the more than $5 million we took away from organized crime and unlawful activity during 2010."

The five-bedroom house on West 53rd Ave. is the former site of a 959-plant grow-op discovered in the course of an investigation into diversion of hydro power. Vancouver Police referred the case to the Province's Civil Forfeiture Office in 2009. Since then, the property has been forfeited, remediated and sold to new owners unrelated to the forfeiture action.

"Civil forfeiture actions like this help to ensure that criminals do not profit from lucrative and dangerous activities," said Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu. "Increasingly, we are referring cases for civil forfeiture as one more tool to curb public-safety risks like those posed by grow-ops, which often create fire and electrocution risks, threatening the lives of first responders and other innocent people."

Last year saw a dramatic rise in cases referred by police agencies to the CFO and the value of forfeiture actions concluded. During 2010:
* The CFO concluded 74 cases.
* The property forfeited - 18 properties, six vehicles and 56 cash seizures - had a total value of $5.3 million.
* Police referred 105 new files for which the CFO has initiated proceedings. The value of assets now pending resolution of active forfeiture actions is $82.6 million.

In 2006, B.C. became the second Canadian jurisdiction with a civil forfeiture program targeting the tools and proceeds of unlawful activity.