A Surrey man who grew 80 tiny marijuana plants in his master bedroom has paid a big price for his small grow op. The provincial government has seized his three-storey Newton house.
William Khan Munnue, also known as Ali Haydar Kazan, Ali Kazan and Eldon Perryon, bought the house at 12430 74th Ave. in 2004, for $440,496.96.
Justice Paul Pearlman ordered it to be seized under the Civil Forfeiture Act, at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, after deeming the house an "instrument of unlawful activity."
"I find that the defendant chose to set up and run the marijuana grow operation for profit," the judge said.
Munnue, a carpet installer from Turkey, admitted to having the 80 plants, all less than a foot tall, in his upper bedroom. But he denied knowing about any marijuana processing activity in his two-bedroom basement suite. Pearlman found this "not credible."
"On the preponderance of the probabilities, I find that Mr. Munnue was aware of the marijuana processing operation in the two-bedroom basement suite, and permitted its use for that purpose," the judge said.
The court heard Munnue is single, lives alone and has no children. He used the main and third floors of his house as his residence but also rented out a one-bedroom and two-bedroom basement suite, using the annual $13,000 in rental income to help pay his mortgage.
Munnue told the court that the two-bedroom suite had been vacant since October 2009, after his tenant made a midnight run. The following month, Vancouver Police began surveillance on the property as part of an investigation into a gang of marijuana thieves.
Munnue had no lawyer and represented himself in court. He argued that forfeiture of his house was "disproportionate" and "clearly not in the interests of justice."
Pearlman, however, noted that marijuana grow ops expose neighbours to the risk of fire and violence.
"The state has a legitimate interest in general deterrence, both with respect to the grow operation, and regarding the use of the 74th Avenue property for gang-related activity involving the storing and processing of stolen marijuana," Pearlman said.
The VPD searched the entire house, on a warrant, and found several garbage bags containing more than 41 kilograms of marijuana plant clippings. On the main floor, the police found a handgun magazine with one .45 calibre round in the top drawer of a kitchen desk, a box containing 50 rounds of 9 mm Luger ammo, two envelopes containing $4,700 in cash and the 80 plants in the master bedroom upstairs.
Munnue was never charged with any offence stemming from the police search, though he did admit at trial that he was responsible for the small marijuana grow op on the third floor. He claimed he only had it running for six days before the police raided his house.
Pearlman said marijuana grow ops "are a pervasive and significant problem throughout the province." There are at least 10,000 commercially viable marijuana grow ops in B.C. each year, according to renowned criminologist Dr. Darryl Plecas.
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