Police raid licensed grow-op north of Toronto, seize $6.5M in cannabis
Two men have been charged after police raided 22 greenhouses north of Toronto and seized thousands of cannabis plants allegedly grown without proper licences.
York Regional Police say the drugs carried a street value of $6.5 million and were being grown in an “unregulated, illegal and unsafe manner.”
Officers conducted a safety inspection in July of a property in King Township after receiving several complaints. During the inspection, they discovered a “large-scale” cannabis grow-op on the property, according to a press release.
The owners of the property had three Health Canada licences that allowed each of them to grow a total of 875 plants for medical purposes. But police say they found much more.
“We had over 4,000 plants spread across 22 greenhouses and dried product stuffed in trailers, in trucks, in the residence. It was an absolute mess,” York Regional Police Deputy Chief Tom Carrique told CTV Toronto. “This definitely speaks to me of being a criminal enterprise.”
Police described the property as having unsuitable work conditions. Carrique said there were mattresses scattered around a trailer, electrical connections that appeared unsafe and “garbage everywhere.”
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair said Friday that the federal government’s new approach on cannabis will provide much tighter rules to crack down on such operations.
“This is one of the reasons we’ve brought in these new strict regulations that control every aspect of production and distribution of cannabis,” Blair said.
Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said it’s not unusual for police to bust operations that are growing cannabis outside their licenced limits.
“All too often, police are identifying personal and designated production licence holders that are growing excessive amounts of cannabis under Health Canada authorizations,” Jolliffe said.
“The product is then diverted to the illicit market by organized crime groups to supply illegal dispensaries, export outside of Canada and trafficked in our local communities.”
Samkeo Vanvilay, 43, from Laval, Que. and Chi Chung Phan, 36, from Montreal have been charged with producing marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.