A photo of a North Vancouver, B.C., man standing in front of a mountaintop marijuana grow operation wasn't enough to convict him, but Mounties are happy they shut the operation down and now can keep a closer eye on the suspect.

"The good side of this story is we did take these drugs out of production, and these drugs won't make it to the street," RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Peter DeVries told ctvbc.ca.

Police were tipped off to the operation when an employee of Mount Seymour Resort spotted three men unloading what appeared to be seedling marijuana plants from the back of a pick-up truck approximately 2.5 kilometres up Mount Seymour Road on June 22.

When the employee came towards the men, two of them ran off into the forest while the third man drove away.

RCMP tracked down the driver a short time later and took him into custody for Possession of a Controlled Substance. They did not find the other men.

Although police confiscated 12 immature marijuana plants and believed there was a grow operation nearby, police released the man without charges because officers were unable to locate a grow operation,

Members of the RCMP's Bicycle Patrol returned to Mount Seymour Road three days later and discovered 66 marijuana plants deep into the bush along with potting soil, pots, water and fertilizer.

They also found numerous photos of the three suspects among the marijuana farm. The RCMP says its inability to charge any of the men underscores the daunting prospect of having enough compelling evidence for the court to charge someone with an offence.

"In a case like this where you have photos of a person standing among some drugs, they're damning photos," DeVries said." We can say with pretty strong certainty this guy must know that this is pot and the presumption is that he's involved in growing it."

But police say proving the men knew the plants were marijuana and had the intent to grow and sell it requires stronger evidence.

"Proximity to the marijuana as shown in the photographs just doesn't get you to that point," DeVries said.

Last August, the RCMP's Bicycle Patrol unearthed a large grow op also on Mount Seymour.

A helicopter pilot alerted police to its whereabouts, and three officers found 257 individually potted marijuana plants each fitted with a gravity-operated, electronic watering system. A hose more than one kilometre long fed the plants.

RCMP have no suspects for the grow op busted last year, and do not know if it's connected to the one recently discovered.