Ontario police announce seizure of another 1,000 cannabis plants from large, commercial grow

| Morton Robertson

The Sudbury Police, along with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) say they have thwarted another large scale cannabis operation in Ontario.

On September 1, 2020, law enforcement seized 1,000 cannabis plants from an unlicensed operator, 47 kg of dried cannabis, 50 kg of cannabis oil, and 10 kg of cannabis-infused butter and dismantled a large extraction unit for cannabis oil.

Two people have been charged and are scheduled to appear in court on November 25, 2020. Police estimate the total value of seized product was over $2 million, along with another $143,625 in “cannabis resin extraction lab equipment”.

The police report says “A criminal enterprise begins when those involved begin exploiting the Health Canada medical, personal and designated cannabis production regime by diverting cannabis authorized to be grown for medical purposes to the illegal market”. No information is provided if this operation has a personal or designated medical licence.

Last month, police in Ontario announced at least two other large raids, seizing more than 15,000 cannabis plants seized in another large raid in Ontario.

On August 21, OPP dismantled what they say was a “large-scale, sophisticated” cannabis network between BC and Ontario, arresting eight people and seizing nearly 2,000 pounds of cannabis, along with other cannabis products in what police are calling Project Woolwich.

recent raid in St Catharines last week was connected to this 12-month-long investigation.

On the same day in an unrelated raid, OPP Community Street Crime Unit officers from the Northumberland, Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes detachments said they arrested nineteen people in another large bust at a rural property in Trent Hills. Officers seized more than 600 pounds of cannabis and more than 1,800 plants.

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.

Raids of this nature in southern Ontario are not uncommon.

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 grow units. Police said they seized 2,683 cannabis plants, 287.5 pounds of processed cannabis and $1,500 in cash. They valued 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.