In the last two years, members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET) have tackled illegal cannabis production, sale and distribution enterprises across Ontario.
The PJFCET is responsible for enforcing the cannabis laws and investigating criminal enterprises that exploit or abuse the legal cannabis market and consists of members from: OPP, Kingston Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Barrie Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Sarnia Police Service, Windsor Police Service, London Police Service, and Niagara Regional Police Service.
Investigators have executed 152 warrants across Ontario, seized over 180,000 cannabis plants, thousands of pounds of dried cannabis, edibles and concentrates and other illicit drugs, $3.2 million Canadian currency and over $1.8 million in proceeds from crime such as property, vehicles and firearms. The PJFCET has laid 1,176 federal Cannabis Act and Criminal Code charges.
The PJFCET partners with OPP Regional Community Street Crime Units, along with members of the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Emergency Response Team and Tactics and Rescue Unit, Ontario Fire Marshal, Ministry of Environment, Canada Border Services Agency and local municipalities to safeguard and protect communities from the dangers inherent with the illegal cannabis industry.
Communities spread across the province face threats from violence associated with illegal crime activities, from human trafficking, to impacts on the environment, including the quality of life when surrounded by large-scale illegal cannabis facilities. The OPP takes you inside a facility in a rare video that looks at the magnitude of these illegal operations and the impact they have on the community.
These sophisticated operations exploit Health Canada registrations to produce or designate someone to produce, cannabis for medical purposes by diverting cannabis authorized to be grown for medical purposes to the illegal market.
Cutting off the illegal supply is not only related to enforcement and arrests. The OPP continues to work with online platform operators to remove illegal cannabis sites that are selling unsafe and unregulated cannabis products.
“The PJFCET’s initial focus was on storefronts and then shifted to the online space. Now, we are targeting the illegal cannabis sites where we see the magnitude of the scope of these illegal operations. They are not small operations growing for personal use. They are lucrative criminal networks funding other criminality. This is organized crime at its highest level,” explains Detective Inspector Jim Walker, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team.