LONDON, ON, June 19, 2012 /CNW/ - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police today announced the dismantling of a criminal organization involved in setting up Marihuana Grow Operations (MGO's) throughout Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada. After an 18 month investigation using innovative police techniques, the RCMP's Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit in partnership with the London Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Health Canada, the Real Estate Council of Ontario and Sutton Group Preferred Realty arrested and charged a total of seven individuals.
Operation OSALE resulted in the dismantling of two illegal indoor MGOs and the seizure of thousands of marihuana plants and growing equipment. Two commercial businesses catering to MGOs have also been raided and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of MGO equipment seized.
"The criminals that set up these Marihuana Grow Operations in our neighborhoods are driven by greed and are seriously impacting the safety and well being of our communities as well as putting us all at undue risk" said Supt Jamie Jagoe, South Western Ontario District Commander. "We are determined to find these crime groups and bring them to justice."
The operation was launched in London, Ontario after police learned that a local realtor was alleged to be assisting criminals in locating and purchasing London area properties that would be suitable for setting up MGOs. During the operation, RCMP undercover officers dealt with the realtor to purchase a prospective grow house and then worked with various associated individuals who specialized in setting up the house, including the installation of lights and an illegal power by-pass system, and the supply of small marihuana plants. This grow-operation, which would have been able to produce approximately $320,000 worth of marihuana per year, was shut down before production and the investigation exposed a criminal network able to supply anybody with an entirely functional MGO. It is alleged this same criminal group was also involved in decommissioning MGOs and putting the houses back on the market after they had been seized by police.
During the course of its investigation, the RCMP learned of the involvement of two companies that specialize in providing all the necessary MGO equipment under the guise of being hydroponic garden stores. It is alleged that these stores introduced the RCMP undercover officers to criminals supplying marihuana starter plants and clones diverted from medical marihuana farms licensed by Health Canada. The RCMP believe they have exposed a widespread conspiracy to subvert the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations to produce marihuana for trafficking purposes.
The following persons are in custody and were charged with trafficking marihuana and conspiracy to produce marihuana contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. They are scheduled to attend court for their first appearance at London Provincial Court house on July 27th, 2012:
- Cong Van Nguyen (50 years old) of Scarborough, Ontario.
- Duc Phong Bui (45 years old) of Mississauga, Ontario.
- Thang Vu (56 years old) of Scarborough, Ontario.
- Derek Pedro (40 years old) of Hamilton, Ontario.
The following persons were charged with conspiracy to produce marihuana contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and are scheduled to attend court for their first appearance at London Provincial Court house on July 27th, 2012:
- Thu Tran (46 years old) of London, Ontario.
- Tuan Anh Vu (52 years old) of Vaughan, Ontario.
- Kim Toan Nguyen (64 years old) of Mississauga, Ontario.
In September 2011, the RCMP launched the Marihuana Grow Initiative to combat the prevalence of marihuana production being run and exploited by organized crime groups in Canada. This joint forces operation is an example of the collaboration envisioned within the Initiative and is the next step in building a coordinated, collective response to this issue across Canada.
Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is encouraged to contact their local police, the RCMP at 1-800-387-0020 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
For more information on the Marihuana Grow Initiative please visit: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/drugs-drogues/mgi-ircm/gallery-galerie-eng.htm
For further information:
Sgt Richard Rollings
RCMP Media Relations Coordinator
(416) 992-4409 (Cell)