12/19/2011 08:54 EST | Updated 02/18/2012 05:12 EST

Officer smells trouble and finds B.C. grow-op

An RCMP officer on traffic duty in followed his nose and discovered a “sophisticated” grow-op on a property in southeastern B.C. that has been used to cultivate pot in the past, police say.

The officer was working on a section of Highway 6 in the West Kootenay region Dec. 9 near a property that was formally operated as a sawmill, RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Monday.

Moskaluk said the officer smelled a distinct odour of growing marijuana being carried on the wind from the property and on that basis, obtained a search warrant.

A search on Dec. 10 found about 450 plants in “a highly sophisticated” growing operation, said Moskaluk.

The same property was searched June 2009 after an officer noticed large macaws and parrots flying near the highway, and knew the non-native birds must have escaped captivity.

The officer followed one of the birds and stumbled upon a grow-op on the same property.

“It appears that birds of a feather continue to flock together on this property, as the grow [op] was located in same room as the first time, adjacent to the large parrot enclosure, with eight birds or so still on site,” Moskaluk said.

Two men in their 30s found on the property were arrested in connection with the latest seizure and police are recommending drug-related charges against them and a third man, who is still being sought.