180,000 cannabis plants seized as part of illegal production investigation: OPP
BARRIE, ONT. -- Over the past two years, police forces across Ontario teamed up to form the Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET), focusing on tackling the illegal cannabis market.
Detective Inspector Jim Walker, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, said the PJFCET concentrated on storefronts before shifting to the online space, and then set their sites on the production facilities.
Walker said investigators seized over 100,000 illegal cannabis plants from half a dozen production sites.
"What was even more startling was that we seized over $2 million in Canadian currency between the sites, that was just lying around loose so that just speaks to the sheer volume of cash that's generated from here," said OPP Detective Inspector Jim Walker.
Collectively, officers executed 152 warrants across the province and seized property, vehicles and firearms along with the cannabis plants and cash.
PJFCET Det. Const. Sarah Bamford said some operations with a Health Canada licence to produce cannabis are taking advantage of the system.
"For example, you may see somebody that may have a licence to produce 400 plants. Well, under the regulations, you can have up to four licences per address, so what's happening is we're seeing people who have four licences, and instead of having 400 plants, they have 1,600 plants."
Investigators advise buyers to do their research to ensure they are purchasing cannabis legally.
The team, made up of members from the Barrie Police Service, Kingston Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Sarnia Police Service, Windsor Police Service, London Police Service, and Niagara Regional Police Service, laid 1,176 charges.