Police cleared a 16-block area of South Surrey Thursday afternoon after discovery of a potentially explosive drug lab in a home on 176 Street.
“We have blocked the whole area off because there is a huge potential for fire,” RCMP Cpl. Drew Grainger said at the scene. “We don’t want cars going by and then turning into balls of fire.”
A 58-year-old resident of the 2782 176 St. home was arrested “away from the scene” shortly after noon Oct. 6, and police are considering charges of production of marijuana in connection with evidence of a recently harvested grow-operation.
The equipment was “ready to go with another crop that could support several hundred plants,” Grainger said Friday.
Other criminal charges may be suggested after “several dozen” booby-traps were found in and around the home, he added.
Grainger said the traps were “covertly and indiscriminately” placed throughout the two-storey home and surrounding property. “What we can say for sure is that they were highly explosive and had potential to have fatal consequences on a person who came across them unknowingly,” Grainger said.
“That could include a child running after their dog.”
Members of the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team were at the scene until about 9 p.m. Thursday. They entered the home around 4:30 p.m. using the “Hatton technique,” in which a special round of shotgun shells was used to penetrate the front door.
Grainger said a search warrant was executed on the home “with an abundance of caution” as part of an ongoing investigation. Hydro and natural gas service was shut down in the area as a precaution; and one residence immediately south of the “fairly sophisticated operation” was evacuated.
A man who has lived in the neighbouring home with his mother and father for 18 months told Peace Arch News Friday that he and his parents were allowed to return around 9:30 p.m. He declined to give his name, and said he knew little about his neighbour.
Pacific Highway (176 Street) was initially closed to traffic between 16 and 32 Avenues; a no-fly zone was also established over the corridor, Grainger said.
The highway barricade was reduced to an eight-block stretch (from 32nd south to 24th Avenue) just after 5 p.m. Thursday. Friday morning, traffic was being diverted from the northbound curb lane, while members of the Lower Mainland Regional Explosive Disposal Unit continued work to disarm the booby-traps.
The team and other investigators were expected to remain at the site through until Friday evening.
While some media were highlighting that the targeted home is located just three blocks from Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ residence, Grainger said it was no surprise to police to find a drug lab in the area.
“Clandestine drug labs pop up everywhere,” he said. “They know no boundaries.”
– with files from Sarah Massah