Hamilton police’s latest seizure includes $3 million in drugs, mostly cannabis

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“Even though cannabis and related products are now legal, illicit grow operations remain a valid concern as they pose safety risks to the community.”

A three-month probe into drug trafficking and gun violence in Hamilton, Ontario, has led to the police seizing more than $3 million in drugs.

Cannabis accounted for the lion’s share of drugs confiscated, according to the Hamilton Police Service (HPS). Specifically, officers seized 75 kilograms of processed cannabis estimated to be worth $1 million, 2,500 marijuana plants valued at about $2 million and $20,000 in other illicit drugs.

Among the charges that have been laid is possession of cannabis for the purpose of distributing, possession of cannabis for the purpose of selling, cultivate, propagate or harvest cannabis and proceeds of crime over $5,000.

The latest discovery of illicit drugs followed the execution of search warrants on six properties in Hamilton mountain. Beyond the weed, HPS officers also found 35 firearms, four prohibited devices (extended magazines), thousands of rounds of ammunition, three heavily plated, high-calibre, bullet-proof vests, multiple kilograms of suspected cutting agent and about $175,000 in cash.

Almost 35 per cent of the firearms seized as part of Project Munro were found either loaded or unsafely stored, while several firearms “had been modified in order to enhance performance,” the HPS reports.

“The negative impact of criminal networks and their activities know no borders and impact the safety of everyone in our community,” the statement notes. “Even though cannabis and related products are now legal, illicit grow operations remain a valid concern as they pose safety risks to the community,” it states.

Modifications such as tampering with electrical wiring, installing irrigation devices, using an industrial exhaust fan, and bypassing utility meters “can result in fires or explosions,” the police add.
Finding illegal grows has become almost commonplace in Ontario. The HPS points out that over the past year, police services throughout the province have “seized tens of millions of dollars’ worth of plants and products from large-scale illicit cannabis grow-ops and production sites.”

Some of the busts have included police confiscating 3,700 cannabis plants in North Bay this month, 2,000 plants in Goodwood this past August, about 3,500 plants in Quinte West in June and more than 12,000 plants in Chapleau in May.

It continues to be an issue that organized crime exploits existing “legal medical cannabis regulations for their own criminal purpose,” the HPS reports. “Proceeds from illicit cannabis sales are used by criminal organizations to purchase weapons and other drugs,” the statement adds.

Recently in Winnipeg, the city council there has voted to regulate problem cannabis grow-ops, citing issues with people who have been issued a medical cannabis licence, but abuse it to grow commercial quantities.

The Consumer Choice Centre reported in the spring of 2020 that Canada’s program for “growing medical cannabis for personal use is undermining the legal market and fuelling the illicit market.”

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