Abbotsford property subject of civil forfeiture claim

The residential property of an Abbotsford restaurant owner has become the subject of a civil forfeiture claim in B.C. Supreme Court.

This property on Huntingdon Road in Abbotsford is the subject of a civil forfeiture claim.

This property on Huntingdon Road in Abbotsford is the subject of a civil forfeiture claim.

The residential property of an Abbotsford restaurant owner has become the subject of a civil forfeiture claim in B.C. Supreme Court.

Civil court documents allege that Mario Facchin’s property in the 33400 block of Huntingdon Road, also owned by Elena Facchin, was used as a marijuana grow operation.

Mario, 48, is the owner of a restaurant in west Abbotsford.

Police searched the Facchin property on April 1, 2011, and found “a variety of controlled substances,” including 600 marijuana plants, as well as growing equipment such as ballasts, lights and timers, according to the notice of civil claim filed Thursday by the director of civil forfeiture.

Also found were paraphernalia for “controlled substance usage,” production, cultivation and trafficking, the documents state.

The claim states that the owners benefited from the proceeds of crime, as “either or both defendants did not have sufficient legitimate income or assets to account for their ownership of the property.”

The documents also state that the proceeds would have been used for some or all of the following: the down payment of the property, the mortgage, property taxes, and property improvements and maintenance.

A property title search shows that the Facchins purchased the 4.4 acre property on Nov. 5, 2007 for $1.25 million. The site, which has two homes and several outbuildings, is now listed for $1.65 million.

Although two men were arrested at the scene of the police bust in April 2011, they were later released, and no criminal charges have yet been laid.

However, a civil forfeiture claim can proceed on the basis that unlawful activity occurred on the property, regardless of whether charges have been laid or whether there has been a conviction.

In May, a claim was filed against a three-storey home on Siskin Drive in Abbotsford. That property was also alleged to have been a grow-op in which the police seizure included 1,000 plants, as well as weapons and $4,000 cash.

The B.C. Civil Forfeiture Act was passed in 2006, permitting the provincial government to apply to court to obtain property that was obtained through criminal activity.

If a judge decides a property must be forfeited, it can then be sold and the proceeds used by the government for victim compensation, crime prevention activities, crime remediation activities, and administration of the act.

Since January of this year, police in B.C. have referred more than 60 new files, and more than 200 cases are ongoing. The net value of these assets is $22.6 million.