Ontario Provincial Police conduct raid of two large Niagara-area cannabis grow-ops

A local media outlet reported that on Thursday, August 13, dozens of officers and cars were seen at two locations in the Niagara region of Ontario.

Although the St. Catharine Standard reported that Ontario Provincial Police said the investigation was continuing and information would be released in the next several days, the article has a photo showing cannabis plants inside a greenhouse and cites a neighbour as saying they understood one location to be a medical cannabis farm.

The two locations, one at Northend Gardens on 15th Street in Jordan, ON where OPP’s Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team were seen going in and out of a house carrying bankers boxes, and a second location on Cataract Road in Thorold.

“We moved here in March of 2015, they started in January 2016, and I could smell it on the first day,” neighbour John Michael Dykstra told the St. Catharine Standard.

“As a neighbourhood, we would have our questions, they would sometimes have vehicles come and go in the middle of the night.”

Video via 610cktb

The Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team also say they have closed 77 illicit dispensaries, seizing product and making arrests.

In 2019 Thorold City Council discussed neighbourhood complaints about the same or a neighbouring location on Cataract Road. While the article and the conversation among city councillors seems to imply these locations are licensed commercial operations, it is far more likely they are personal or designated medical grows operating illicitly as commercial operations. This is a common concern in the region. So much so that Niagara police have a repository of locations they have raided for cannabis grow ops.

While commercially licensed cannabis cultivators are required to adhere to local bylaws as well as federal rules around odour mitigation, personal and designated production licences can be much more challenging for municipalities to regulate.

In July of this year, Niagara Regional Police raided a large illegal marijuana grow operation in St. Catharines, seizing what they say was $34 million worth of cannabis. Niagara police say this is the largest marijuana grow operation they’ve ever investigated.

In September 2019, Niagara Regional Police dismantled a grow op with over 1,000 plants which they say had a street value of over a million dollars.

In 2018 Niagara Regional Police Service dismantled two large marijuana grow operations on Cataract Road following several months investigation from the regional police guns, gangs and grows unit. Police said they seized 2,683 cannabis plants, 287.5 pounds of processed cannabis and $1,500 in cash. They valued of the cannabis as being worth just under $3.2 million. Six were arrested.

In 2016 Niagara Regional Police seized nearly 4,000 plants from a medical cannabis grow authorized for 400 plants under three licenses. Police discovered the illegal grow operation when the owners called the police after they were confronted at gunpoint by a group of masked men who demanded drugs, cash and guns.

In 2015 Niagara police raided a medical marijuana grow on Lakeshore in Niagara-on-the-lake and cut down and seized nearly 900 plants that they said was worth $1.6 million dollars. It was one of the largest medical marijuana busts in the country at that time.

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