LONDON – NEWS – A 16-month intelligence-led investigation into a drug trafficking network has concluded, leading to significant seizures of illegal cannabis and its derivatives, valued at more than $32 million. A total of 21 members or associates of a criminal organization have been arrested and charged with 118 offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), Cannabis Act and Criminal Code, including charges related to organized crime.
“The illegal cannabis trade continues to be dominated by organized crime. The legalization of cannabis has not removed the involvement of these organized crime groups as it remains to be a lucrative commodity and is often used to fund other criminal activities. Associates of this organized crime group have also been responsible for the trafficking of cocaine in the London area. For criminals that aim to jeopardize the safety of our communities by trafficking these illegal commodities – the OPP and our partners in law enforcement will continue to relentlessly pursue them, seize their property and dismantle their operations,” stated OPP Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox, Investigations and Organized Crime.
As a result of this investigation, police seized:
- 495 kilograms of illegal cannabis resin/oil;
- 7,166 kilograms of illegal cannabis bud;
- Approximately 10,000 packages of illegal cannabis edibles;
- 2,773 kilograms of illegal cannabis shake;
- 185 kilograms of illegal cannabis shatter;
- 15,343 illegal cannabis 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 cal rifle and a 12 gauge sawed off shotgun;
- More than $53,000 CAD currency; and
- Six vehicles as offence-related property, with a combined value of approximately $163,000.
The drugs seized in this investigation have an estimated street-value of more than $32 million.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) and London Police Service (LPS) began Project GAINSBOROUGH in June 2020 after police became aware of the large-scale distribution of illegal cannabis and cannabis derivatives, as well as the trafficking of cocaine, in the London area.
Police were able to identify a sophisticated criminal organization responsible for operating an illegal cannabis website with delivery service in London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto. The members and associates of this criminal organization have also been involved in the exportation of illegal cannabis and cannabis derivatives to numerous locations domestically and worldwide, including Europe and South America.
As a result, Project GAINSBOROUGH investigators identified two clandestine cannabis extraction labs located in Brampton and Middlesex County. With the assistance of Peel Regional Police, LPS and the OPP Clandestine Laboratory Investigative Response Team, police were able to dismantle the labs and ensure there are no concerns for public safety. Cannabis extraction labs can pose significant dangers to the community. 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 November 3, 2021, police executed 15 search warrants at locations in London (8), Hamilton (2), Toronto (1), St. Thomas (1), Middlesex County (1) and Norfolk County (2). Members from the OPP OCEB, Community Street Crime Unit, Emergency Response Team, Canine, Digital Forensics, Forensic Identification Service, the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, Middlesex County Detachment, Biker Enforcement Unit and Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team as well as the LPS, Toronto Police Service, St. Thomas Police Service, Hamilton Police Service and Woodstock Police Service Canine Unit assisted with the execution of warrants.
A total of 21 people have been charged with 118 offences, including criminal organization related offences.
Upon arrest, three of the accused were held in custody. The remaining 18 were released and are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in London on various dates in November and December, 2021.
“Like many other cities, London has been directly impacted by the illegal drug trade, and the dangers that are associated with it. We are pleased that this criminal organization has been exposed and will be held accountable by the justice system,” concluded Detective Superintendent Paul Waight, Criminal Investigation Division, London Police Service.