Cannabis set-up operation busted

Toronto Star
Mar. 29, 2002
Bob Mitchell
Peel/Halton Bureau Chief

Police describe firm as one-stop shopping for home-grown pot

Police dismantled a one-stop-shopping marijuana operation investigators say provided the seedlings and know-how to set up an in-home garden for a "consultant's fee" of at least $2,500.

Using an undercover officer from the U.S.Drug Enforcement Agency posing as a buyer, police said yesterday a complete pot-growing operation was set up in a home in Peel Region.

"We approached a business and advised them we were interested in setting up a marijuana operation and we were basically walked through it," said Peel Superintendent John Nielsen.

The lab was capable of producing millions of dollars worth of marijuana for the Greater Toronto market, police said.

Altogether 21 people were arrested in the 10-month project dubbed "POT-luck," which resulted in the seizure of $1.7 million worth of property, including several commercial properties, two Mississauga residences and numerous luxury vehicles.

The RCMP's Toronto integrated proceeds of crime unit seized the All Seasons Hydroponic store at 1000 Dundas St. E. in Mississauga.

Nielsen said the undercover operation was sold all the necessary hydroponics equipment as well as marijuana seedlings at $7 each.

"Once our product was cropped, they were in a position to buy it back from us and distribute it through their own network," Nielsen said.

More than 200 residential pot operations have been dismantled in the past 15 months in Peel and police allege several of these operations have ties to four businesses taken down yesterday.

"It's unknown how many residential labs have been set up by these operations," Nielsen said.

Using 110 officers yesterday, five home labs that are alleged to be directly connected to this operation were raided, resulting in the seizure of 4,000 plants and nearly 400 pounds of harvested marijuana worth nearly $8 million. Six vehicles, and approximately $230,000 (Canadian) and $71,000 (U.S.) were also seized.

Also seized as proceeds of crime were numerous bank accounts in Greater Toronto.

Owners and employees of three other Mississauga hydroponic retail stores - Sunlight Hydroponics on Lakeshore Rd. E.; Easy Grow Hydroponics on Dundas St. E. and Vitamax Gardens on Britannia Rd. E. - were also charged in connection with the probe.

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