Zebras And Kangaroos Recovered During Large-Scale Grow-Op Raids In Ontario

Canadian law enforcement in Aurora, Ontario, recovered tens of thousands of cannabis plants as well as several exotic animals during the summer months of 2020 through the execution of a series of search warrants dubbed Project Green Sweep.

According to York Regional Police (YRP), investigators with its Organized Crime Bureau – Guns, Gangs, and Drug Enforcement Unit seized approximately $150 million worth of illegal cannabis from various indoor and outdoor growing operations throughout the region, including in Stouffville, King, Markham, and East Gwillimbury.

YRP reports that the raids resulted in 37 arrests and 67 charges.

Investigators believe that organized crime is exploiting the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation (ACMPR), which allows some growers to grow large amounts of cannabis plants and store harvested material for personal use.

Growers may pool up to four licenses at a single address and create a cannabis farm, but YRP alleges that the plants it seized from the identified locations were going to the illicit market.

YRP reports that organized crime networks have embedded themselves in the business by exploiting loopholes in current legislation and that the resulting proceeds fund the illegal distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, and firearms.

“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 York Regional Police Chief 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 “Organized crime continues to exploit an outdated Health Canada medical licensing system, which is generating tremendous profit that we know is resulting in violence and funding other criminal activity in our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.”

During Project Green Sweep, authorities seized 28,964 plants and 3,990 pounds of harvested cannabis as well as seven firearms, two crossbows, and a conducted energy weapon.

At a location in Schomberg, authorities also seized several exotic animals, including two zebras and three kangaroos.

Animal control received notification regarding the animals and opened an investigation.

YRP reports that its investigation is ongoing.