Provincial police shared this aerial view of the illegal cannabis operation, which was raided on August 13 as part of Project Woolwich. (OPP)
Provincial police say they’ve shut down a massive operation in the Niagara Region that rerouted cannabis grown for medical use to the illegal market, seizing more than 100,000 plants and $2.5 million Canadian.
The 12-month investigation, dubbed Project Woolwich, involved police across the country and partnership with U.S. border officials.
Police say the accused are not members of organized crime groups, but described them as a “criminal enterprise with a large-scale, sophisticated operation.”
Investigators say they seized shipments of cannabis destined for the U.S. as well as two large shipments of U.S. currency headed for Canada.
The accused were also responsible for “large-volume shipments” of illegal cannabis from B.C. to Ontario, according to police, who estimate the total duty loss for the illegal cannabis seized is more than $42 million.
“This criminal enterprise may not be a known organized crime group, but they are people with power, influence and money and are extremely opportunistic,” stated Det. Insp. Jim Walker of the OPP’s organized crime enforcement bureau in a media release.
“Criminals are exploiting the Health Canada medical cannabis personal and designate production regime by diverting the cannabis to the illegal market and are profiting greatly from this illegal activity.”
Eight people were arrested following raids throughout the GTA and Niagara Region, Leamington and British Columbia on August 13.
Police say they seized the following:
- 101,049 illegal cannabis plants.
- 1,921 pounds of illegal cannabis bud.
- 21 pounds of illegal cannabis shatter.
- Two ounces of cocaine.
- Three pounds of illegal cannabis hash.
- 22 pounds of illegal cannabis oil.
- Hundreds of illegal cannabis vape pens.
- Six firearms including tan AR 15 assault rifle and two shotguns.
- Grow equipment worth more than $1 million.
- High-end jewellery items.
- Four vehicles.
- More than $2.5 million in Canadian currency.
- $580,828 in US currency.
- $379,383 in Chinese and South Korean currency.
The accused, who police say are residents from Niagara and the Greater Toronto Area, are facing charges under the Cannabis Act, Controlled Drug and Substances Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.