$5-million in cash and property seized from illegal pot operations (Video)

Photo courtesy of the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Ontario Provincial Police said after two years, it has executed 152 search warrants at illegal pot shops, online sellers, and grow operations.

The Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team is working with police services across Ontario including in Windsor and London.

Through those search warrants, officers have seized $3.2-million in Canadian currency, more than $1.8-million worth of property, thousands of pounds of dried cannabis, edibles, and concentrates, and 180,000 cannabis plants.

OPP Detective Inspector Jim Walker said they found more than 180,000 plants at five or six operations alone.

He emphasized police are not targeting those who grow cannabis for their own personal use, but rather large criminal enterprises that are not regulated or inspected.

Investigators have found many workers, some from other countries, living in squalid conditions. Police say the cannabis operations are sometimes linked to human trafficking.

There are also environmental concerns. Since the operations are not inspected by the province, there is no record of what pesticides were used, and in some cases, chemicals that are banned were found.

The wastewater is also not regulated causing problems for municipalities.

In addition to its policing partners, the unit also works closely with the Ontario Fire Marshal, the Ministry of Environment, and Canada Border Service Agency.

The OPP has laid 1,176 criminal charges under the federal Cannabis Act and Criminal Code.