A six-week investigation targeting those responsible for outdoor marihuana grows in Durham Region has resulted in 22 arrests and over $14 million in plants seized.
Every fall, law enforcement agencies are made aware of or detect outdoor marihuana plants growing inside corn fields, in green spaces and in backyard gardens. Canada’s marihuana industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and many municipalities have been home to large scale outdoor marihuana grows in the past decade.
Traditionally, when law enforcement agencies discover the plants, the marihuana is harvested and destroyed. This fall, the DRPS Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) developed a coordinated enforcement approach to determine who was responsible. A six-week, proactive campaign began in early September, named Project Mosquito, to target those responsible for the production of marihuana.
Members of the DEU, with support from uniform Divisional officers, identified and investigated marihuana grows in each municipality. With the assistance of our helicopter, Air 1 and through other investigative avenues, a total of 49 outdoor and 5 indoor grows were discovered.
The largest outdoor grow operation was one of 1,542 plants in the Beaverton area where three males (two from Hamilton, one from Kitchener) were arrested while harvesting the marihuana on Sept. 26th. The largest indoor grow was located in a home on Phillip Murray Drive in Oshawa in which 1,514 plants and 892 grams of dried marihuana were seized.
A total of 11,943 marihuana plants and 97 lbs of cut marihuana were seized with a combined street value of over $14.5 million. Twenty-two individuals were charged with a total of 69 charges. Two vehicles and one firearm were also seized. Several images taken during Project Mosquito are attached
These investigative results indicated about two-thirds of those arrested were residents of Durham Region. Of the five indoor grow ops, two were in Oshawa, two were in Toronto and one was in Pickering.
Investigators also confirmed that the outdoor plants were all started indoors during the winter and were then transplanted outdoors in the spring, so they could continue growth in a non-incriminating location. Corn fields are a favoured location as farmers would not even be aware of the illegal activity in their fields if they were farming multiple acres.
If you have information about the illegal production of marihuana in Durham Region, please contact the DEU at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5802.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or www.durhamcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000.
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Ajax Backyard (JPG file, 271.4K bytes)
Beaverton Area Outdoor Grow (JPG file, 310.9K bytes)