An OPP-led police raid on an illegal cannabis grow operation in Jordan Station was part of a 12-month, multi-agency collaboration last Thursday that seized $42 million in drugs, guns, vehicles, cash and jewelry.
The raid, dubbed Project Woolwich, was the result of a year-log multi-agency investigation led by the OPP. The illegal activity was uncovered by the Niagara Regional Police Service. The OPP named more than 10 local, provincial, federal and U.S. agencies that collaborated on the bust. It included the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Homeland Security among many others.
Eight people from Niagara Region and the Greater Toronto Area were arrested in the sting last week, on Aug. 13. They face numerous charges including distribution, production, and sale of cannabis under the Cannabis Act, as well as charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.
The illegal cannabis was being produced in Jordan Station and was to be sold in the U.S. The perpetrators are also allegedly responsible for large-volume shipments of illegal cannabis from British Columbia to Ontario.
OPP said that the cannabis grow operation in Jordan Station was a criminal enterprise that violated Health Canada regulations. It called the operation large-scale and sophisticated.
“The illegal cannabis trade is dominated by organized crime and they often change methods of transportation, production and distribution. This criminal enterprise may not be a known organized crime group, but they are people with power, influence and money and are extremely opportunistic,” said Detective Inspector Jim Walker of the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau. “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.”
The results of the investigation include the seizure of:
- 101,049 illegal cannabis plants
- 1,921 pounds of illegal cannabis bud
- 21 pounds of illegal cannabis shatter
- 2 oz of cocaine
- 3 lbs of illegal cannabis hash
- 22 pounds of illegal cannabis oil
- Hundreds of illegal cannabis vape pens
- Six firearms including two .22 pistols, one 9mm Glock, one AR 15 assault rifle and two shotguns
- Grow equipment worth more than $1 million
- Numerous high-end jewelry 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 OPP says the total duty loss for the illegal cannabis seized is estimated at more than $42 million.
The OPP says the investigation is ongoing. A complete list of names and associated charges will be released in the coming days, it said. Those arrested have since been released and will appear at a St. Catharines Ontario Court of Justice on Sept. 17.