A 16-month intelligence-led investigation into a drug trafficking network has wrapped up with the seizure of illegal marijuana and its derivatives.
Police say the drugs seized in the investigation dubbed -Project Gainsborough – have an estimated street value of more than $32 million.
Details of the investigation were revealed at a news conference Tuesday involving Ontario Provincial Police and London Police.
A total of 21 members or associates of a criminal organization have been arrested and charged with 118 offences, including charges related to organized crime.
Investigators say the probe began 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 say they 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,” according to a media release from the OPP.
Investigators say they were able to identify two clandestine cannabis extraction labs located in Brampton and Middlesex County. The labs have since been dismantled and police say there is no threat to public safety.
Police noted labs like these can pose significant dangers to the community because they are often operated by unqualified individuals and typically contain highly explosive, flammable, and toxic substances required to complete the extraction process.
Great work by #OPP & @lpsmediaoffice who seized $32 million in illegal cannabis after Project GAINSBOROUGH, an investigation into a criminal organization trafficking illegal cannabis. 21 people charged with 118 offences https://t.co/7OsGRDhsRA pic.twitter.com/gT9ajVNamx— Ontario Provincial Police (@OPP_News) November 16, 2021
On November 3, police executed 15 search warrants at locations in London, Hamilton, Toronto, St. Thomas, Middlesex County and Norfolk County, involving OPP and police services from London, Toronto, St. Thomas, Hamilton, and Woodstock.
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.
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.