Hamilton-Niagara RCMP seize $24 million worth of cannabis plants in drug trafficking and money laundering bust

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Published July 5, 2022 at 2:48 pm

(Photo: cottonbro/Pexels)

Thousands of cannabis plants worth more than $24 million were seized in a drug trafficking and money laundering bust.

The Hamilton-Niagara RCMP, with the assistance of the OPP and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), say they unraveled a sophisticated drug trafficking and money laundering scheme which has led to multiple charges involving five people.

A total of 29,975 cannabis plants (yielding up to 18,781 pounds of dried cannabis), 7,926 pounds of dried cannabis and $1,029,020 in Canadian currency were seized. Police estimate the total value of all seized cannabis at approximately $24,282,112 CAD. In addition, police restrained one farm and three Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residences.

The investigation began in 2017 when the RCMP gathered information about a potential money laundering scheme that was operating through casinos in the GTA and Niagara regions.

RCMP discovered that over $3 million (Canadian dollars) was laundered from the illegal sale of over 8,000 pounds of cannabis.

Search warrants were executed on five residences and six large-scale marijuana grow operations, resulting in the seizures.

“This investigation, conducted with the assistance of the OPP and FINTRAC, serves as a great example of how a coordinated enforcement effort can contribute to safer communities by disrupting the illegal drug trade and confiscating money laundering proceeds,” said Superintendent Jeff Cooper, officer in charge of district command.

The following people have been charged:

Zu Wen Chang:

  • Laundering the proceeds of crime, contrary to Section 462.31 of the Criminal Code
  • Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354(1)(a) of the Criminal Code
  • Selling, contrary to Section 10(1)(a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Conspiracy to sell cannabis, contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Conspiracy to produce cannabis, contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Possession for the purpose of selling, contrary to Section 10(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Cultivation, contrary to Section 12(4)(a) of the Cannabis Act

Lin Li:

  • Laundering the proceeds of crime, contrary to Section 462.31 of the Criminal Code
  • Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354(1)(a) of the Criminal Code
  • Selling, contrary to Section 10(1)(a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Conspiracy to sell cannabis, contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Conspiracy to produce cannabis, contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Possession for the purpose of selling, contrary to Section 10(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Cultivation, contrary to Section 12(4)(a) of the Cannabis Act

Bo Hai Chen:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (selling cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (producing cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Possession for the purpose of selling, contrary to Section 10(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Cultivation, contrary to Section 12(4)(a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354(1)(a) of the Criminal Code

En Quan Chen:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (selling cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (producing cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Possession for the purpose of selling, contrary to Section 10(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Cultivation, contrary to Section 12(4)(a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354(1)(a) of the Criminal Code

Jian Hua Tao:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (selling cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (producing cannabis), contrary to Section 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
  • Possession for the purpose of selling, contrary to Section 10(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Cultivation, contrary to Section 12(4)(a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354(1)(a) of the Criminal Code

The RCMP did not say where the accused are from.

Anyone with information related to drug importation, trafficking, or possession, or other crimes, should contact local police, the Ontario RCMP at 1-800-387-0020 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), at any time.

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