C-K Police take down four illegal cannabis grow ops

·2 min read

The Chatham-Kent Police’s Intelligence Unit has taken down four large-scale illegal cannabis grow operations, all within the past six months.

Since September, police have seized more than 25,000 pot plants in the community, worth an estimated $25.5 million.

According to police, the first of the three operations was found when officers with the service’s Intelligence Unit executed a search warrant at a property on Richmond Street in Chatham on January 8, 2021. At that time, officers seized a little more than 9,000 illegal plants with an estimated street value of $9 million, along with a large amount of Canadian cash.

A second illegal grow op was busted on the same day on Grand Avenue East in Chatham. Police said they learned about that operation after emergency crews were called to the building for a fire. Officers said they then obtained and executed a warrant and seized 489 illegal plants with an estimated street value of $489,000.

The third grow op was busted a week later, on January 15, at another property on Richmond Street in Chatham. A total of 8580 illegal plants were seized with a total street value of $8.6 million.

They were all arrested and charged with cultivating and possession of cannabis for the purposes of selling and were all later released pending a future court date.

“This past year, a significant amount of cannabis associated with illegal drug operations has been found in Chatham-Kent,” said Chief Gary Conn. “These operations will not be tolerated here in our community as we know their actions may lead to violent behaviour, property crimes and organized crime. Our officers have and will continue to investigate reports of illegal drug activity to ensure the safety of everyone here in our community.”

The three busts in January come after another significant investigation that took down an illegal $7.3 million grow op at a greenhouse facility on Maynard Line in September 2020.

Chatham-Kent police said by seizing the marijuana plants and shutting down the operations, they have removed the illegal cannabis from the streets and kept it “out of the hands of our youth.”

“The goal of locating and dismantling these illegal production sites is to safeguard our community from the dangers that inherently come with the illegal cannabis industry, such as; violent criminal activity, human trafficking and public health concerns due to a lack of regulatory oversight in the illicit market,” said Const. Renee Cowell.

Police have stressed they are not targeting those who grow cannabis legally for their own personal use or storefronts that have legally obtained a permit. Instead, they are focusing on cutting off the illegal supply in order to “reduce the criminality that results from these lucrative criminal networks.”

To report suspicious activity, please call us at 519-352-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News