Ontario police charge 21 people after bust uncovers $32M in illegal cannabis Social Sharing

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Health Canada-approved buds included in drugs found after 16-month investigation, police say

Ontario police have charged 21 people after seizing cannabis valued at $32 million that allegedly includes Health Canada-approved marijuana, as part of an investigation that began in June 2020.

Ontario Provincial Police worked with multiple police forces as part of Operation Gainsborough.

On Tuesday, investigators described how the accused were running websites selling cannabis from registered growers, and delivering the drugs to customers in London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto. Police allege products were also being sold internationally. 

"The individuals were exploiting Health Canada registrations by designating someone to produce cannabis for medical purposes, but using the registrations for criminal purposes and monetary gains," said OPP Det.-Insp. Jim Walker

"The cannabis produced using these registrations was being diverted to the illegal cannabis market."

Ontario Provincial Police uncovered two extraction labs in Middlesex County and Brampton that they say were being used to remove resin for edibles and other forms of cannabis products. (Provided by OPP)

Walker said police uncovered a lab in Middlesex County and another in Brampton where cannabis was being transformed into edibles, oils and other byproducts. Pills, such as hydromorphone (an opioid used to treat pain) were also found on site. 

"The dangers of extraction labs include the risk of fire, explosion, harmful fumes and chemicals exposure, as well as environmental damage and waste," said Walker, asking that the public report any suspicious activity to local police.

Police charged those arrested with 118 offences and also seized 7,000 kilograms of illegal cannabis buds,10,000 packages of edibles and six firearms.

Three of the 21 people arrested have been held in custody. The others were released and are to appear in court in London in November and December.


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