Article by Wayne Lowrie, The Sudbury Star
The Ontario Provincial Police have shut down 18 major cannabis-growing operations in rural Eastern Ontario during the last six weeks.
In the raids, police arrested 134 people, seized about 56,900 marijuana plants and cultivated pot and confiscated cash, weapons and cannabis-growing equipment, according to releases from the OPP.
While some of the accused are local, the vast majority – 115 out of the 134 arrested – are from outside of Eastern Ontario.
Most of the outsiders are from the Greater Toronto Area with Markham and Scarborough frequently popping up as residences of the accused. But the arrested suspects range from as far away as Regina, Sask. and Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 13 of the 18 raids, the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau was involved in the arrests.
Bill Dickson, who speaks for Eastern Ontario OPP, said pot-growing operations are often linked to organized crime but he said it is too early to say whether or not that’s the case in the Eastern Ontario busts.
“There are definitely connections between many of these cannabis grow-ops and organized crime,” said Dickson, but he added that he didn’t want to generalize about the current crop of arrests.
“We can’t say a lot about the big picture yet, but we should be able to say more about the big picture in the next few weeks,” he added.
He said many of the recent busts are in the “Smiths Falls, Brockville, Athens triangle,” but he added that it is too soon to say whether or not they are linked.
The most recent regional drug bust on Tuesday was typical.
South Frontenac OPP, aided by the organized crime bureau and the East Region Community Street Crime Unit, seized more than 600 cannabis plants northeast of Battersea. In addition to the pot plants, cops found more than 90 kilograms of processed cannabis, $500 in cash and growing and processing equipment.
Six people were arrested at the scene: Bi Long Chen, 36, of Aurora, Ming Chen, 42, of Unionville, Jian Feng Lin, 33, of Scarborough, Xing Lin, 37, of Markham, Qiang Wang, 42, of Markham and Zong Hang Zou, 30, of Whitechurch-Stouffville.