Article by Alison Langley, Niagara Falls Review
Ten Niagara residents are among 15 people facing 135 charges after law enforcement agencies quashed what police described as an international “criminal enterprise” and seized $42 million in cannabis.
The police raids conducted in August, including one at a greenhouse in Jordan, came out of a year-old operation called Project Woolwich, run by Ontario Provincial Police and several policing partners.
At the time, the investigation was ongoing and the names of the arrested individuals were not released.
The OPP released the names Thursday, and they include 10 individuals from Niagara.
According to the OPP, members of the criminal enterprise had been exploiting Health Canada medical, personal and designate cannabis production, and were growing the plants to sell illegally in Ontario, British Columbia and the U.S. underground market.
OPP Det. Insp. Jim Walker said investigators have learned criminal enterprises are abusing Health Canada registration, using it as a loophole to grow well over their allotment.
“They’re flagrantly overgrowing that amount, so now you have these large-scale cannabis farms under the regime of Health Canada that they hide behind,” Walker said in a video released by the OPP.
In addition to the arrests, investigators seized 101,000 cannabis plants, 1,920 pounds of cannabis bud, 22 pounds of cannabis oil and hundreds of cannabis vape pens.
Also seized were six firearms, including an AR-15 assault rifle, more than $2.5 million in Canadian currency, $580,000 in U.S. currency and $379,000 in Chinese and South Korean currency.
The joint-services investigation — which included officers from the OPP, the provincial asset forfeiture unit, the clandestine laboratory investigative response team, Niagara, York, Waterloo and Hamilton police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others — began with information uncovered by Niagara Regional Police.