Chatham-Kent police have seized more than 25,000 marijuana plants worth $25.5 million after dismantling four illegal grow-ops in the region over the last few months, according to a news release.
Since September, Chatham-Kent police have dismantled four illegal cannabis operations in the region, three of which were uncovered in January.
"This past year, a significant amount of cannabis associated to illegal drug operations has been found in Chatham-Kent," Chatham-Kent police chief Gary Conn said in a news release. "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."
Since the operations are unsupervised, police said there are a number of threats to the community from unsafe electrical outlets, building code violations to the illegal use of pesticides and disposal of waste water.
They said they are not targeting people who are legally growing cannabis for personal use or storefronts that have a legal permit.
"These are large scale illegal production sites, who pose a negative impact on legitimate local businesses, as the money generated has been linked to funding organized crime," the news release reads.
On Sept. 16, members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service's Intelligence Unit executed a search warrant at a greenhouse on Maynard Line. From this, more than 7,300 plant, valued at $7.3M, were seized.
Police have issued an order for a 48-year-old London man to appear in court for growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that violated the Cannabis Act.
On Jan. 8, Intelligence Unit members used another search warrant for a place on Richmond Street in Chatham, which led them to seize 9,004 plants valued at $9 million and a large amount of Canadian money.
A 34-year-old Markham man and 62-year-old Stouffville man were arrested inside the building and charged with cultivating and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that conflicts with the Cannabis Act. They were released with a court date of Feb. 11.
Police also issued an order for a 58-year-old Markham man for the same offences.
That same day, emergency crews responded to a fire at a building on Grand Avenue East in Chatham and discovered that the property was being used to illegally grow cannabis. Police obtained a search warrant and seized 489 plants valued at $489,000.
An order was issued for a 62-year-old Kitchener woman for growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that conflict with the Cannabis Act.
Days later on Jan. 15, members of the Intelligence Unit yet again searched another property on Richmond Street in Chatham and found 8,580 illegal plants valued at $8.6 million.
Following this, a 46-year-old Markham man, 26-year-old Scarborough man, 24-year-old Oshawa man, 52-year-old Markham woman and 26-year-old North York man were found hiding inside the building.
They were arrested and charged with growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that was against the Cannabis Act.
They are expected to appear in court on Feb. 18.