Manitoba micro cultivator part of criminal investigation, property seizure

| Staff

A man connected to a recently-licensed micro cultivator in Manitoba is part of an ongoing case relating to the illicit production, sale, and distribution of cannabis.

As part of the proceedings, the Manitoba government is also seeking to seize three properties it says are connected to illicit cannabis grows operated by the owner of a micro cultivation facility, including one that is also home to the micro cultivator licensed as Elevated Prairies. 

Elevated Prairies was licensed for cultivation by Health Canada in February, 2023. 

The three properties in question were raided by the RCMP in June, 2023, with RCMP seizing around 2,000 cannabis plants, along with growing equipment and other items that police allege are proceeds of crime. 

Court records show the RCMP first became aware that James Robert McGirr, of Springfield, Manitoba— one of the owners of Elevated Prairies—was an alleged member of a drug trafficking network being invested under the name Project Divergent. This led to an investigation of McGirr and the three properties where cannabis was either grown, stored, or sold.

McGirr told police he grew up to 150 kg of cannabis a month and that he smuggles a cannabis extract into and out of the country via barrels of honey or maple syrup.

Court records also show that during an investigation into McGirr’s activities, he told agents he grows up to 150 kg of cannabis a month and that he smuggles a cannabis extract into and out of the country via barrels of honey or maple syrup. As part of the investigation, RCMP say they purchased 40 pounds of cannabis from McGirr for $40,000.

Two of the properties the province wants to seize had operated under medical production licences from 2021-2022. Court records don’t distinguish if these were personal or designated production licences. 

Court records also show that Health Canada had initially denied a security clearance to McGirr “on the basis that he has current family members with links to organized crime, specifically drug trafficking activities”. McGirr was to hold the positions of RPIC, head of security, master grower, director and officer. 

Elevated Prairies refiled their application after removing McGirr as an officer and was granted their micro cultivation licence about nine months later. 

McGirr is due in court on his criminal charges in July.

The Manitoba government argues that the properties in question are connected to the proceeds of crime in part due to financial records showing McGirr declaring less than $100,000 in income from 2015-2019, despite depositing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash into several accounts over the same time period. McGrirr was also collecting funds from the Federal Government through CERB payments.

McGirr, Elevated Prairies Inc. and the company’s director, 6440780 Manitoba Ltd., and two credit unions that issued mortgages on the properties were also named as defendants in the criminal property forfeiture lawsuit filed by the Manitoba government. 

h/t Erik Pindera at the Manitoba Free Press.