Police in York Region seized roughly $150 million worth of illegal cannabis following a major investigation.
Dubbed Project Green Sweep, the initiative took place during the summer months of 2020 with officers executing 15 search warrants at various indoor and outdoor cannabis grow operations throughout York Region, including Markham, King, Stouffville and East Gwillimbury.
The probe resulted in 37 arrests and 67 charges.
Police have alleged that all the cannabis grown and harvested at the identified locations was destined to be sold in the criminal market.
“Organized crime networks have comfortably embedded themselves in this business, capitalizing and exploiting the loopholes in the current legislation,” reads a media release.
“Proceeds derived from the illicit cannabis trade often fund other facets of these crime groups, including the distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and firearms.”
As part of Project Green Sweep, officers seized 28,964 plants and 3,990 pounds of harvested cannabis, with a total street value of approximately $150 million.
Also seized were seven firearms, two crossbows and a conducted energy weapon. At one location in Schomberg, several exotic animals, including three kangaroos and two zebras, were located. Animal control was notified and is investigating.
“The illegal production of illicit cannabis is a growing problem in York Region and our citizens regularly call to report these large-scale indoor and outdoor grow operations,” said Chief of Police Jim MacSween.
“Organized crime continues to exploit an outdated Health Canada medical licensing system, which is generating tremendous profit that we know is resulting in violence and funding other criminal activity in our community.”
The investigation is ongoing.
For a full list of those charged, click HERE.