After more than a year of investigating, police say they’ve taken down a drug trafficking network in southwestern Ontario and seized illicit weed worth about $32 million.
On Tuesday, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said Project GAINSBOROUGH started in June 2020, after police learned of the “large-scale distribution” of illicit cannabis and its derivatives, as well as the trafficking of cocaine, in the London area.
Project GAINSBOROUGH: $32 million in illegal cannabis after an investigation into a criminal organization trafficking illegal cannabis. 21 people charged with 118 offences https://t.co/ea64XAaJin
— Ontario Provincial Police (@OPP_News) November 16, 2021
According to police, a criminal organization was operating an illicit cannabis website with delivery in London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto. Members and associates of the organization have reportedly been involved with exporting illicit cannabis domestically and internationally, including to Europe and South America.
Two hidden cannabis extraction labs were found through the investigation, location in Brampton and Midldlesex County, and dismantled.
“Cannabis extraction labs can pose significant dangers to the community,” reads an OPP statement.
“These labs are often operated by unqualified individuals and typically contain highly explosive, flammable and toxic substances required to complete the extraction process. The risks associated include fire, explosion, harmful fumes and chemical exposure as well as environmental damage and waste.”
On Nov. 3, police used 15 search warrants at locations in London (8), Hamilton (2), Toronto (1), St. Thomas (1), Middlesex County (1) and Norfolk County (2).
As a result, officers seized the following:
- 495 kilograms of cannabis resin or oil;
- 7,166 kilograms of cannabis bud;
- about 10,000 packages of cannabis edibles;
- 2,773 kilograms of shake;
- 185 kilograms of shatter;
- 15,343 weed plants;
- 65 kilograms of psilocybin;
- 124 grams of cocaine;
- 28 oxycodone pills;
- 50 hydromorphone pills;
- grow equipment valued at more than $653,000;
- six firearms and ammunition, including four handguns, a .22 caliber rifle and a 12 gauge sawed-off shotgun;
- more than $53,000 in cash;
- six vehicles as offence-related property, worth about $163,000 in total.
OPP estimates the street value of the drugs to be worth more than $32 million.
Twenty-one people were arrested and charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Cannabis Act and Criminal Code, including charges related to organized crime.
Three of the accused were held in custody and the other 18 were released with court dates in November or December.
A total 118 charges have been laid.