Two Hamilton residents among 21 arrested in connection to $32M drug bust: OPP

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Published November 16, 2021 at 1:40 pm

A multi-police agency drug bust resulted in the seizure of drugs with a street value of $32 million and led to the arrest of 21 people who now face a total of 118 charges. — OPP handout

Two Hamilton residents are among 21 people facing charges in relation to a recent massive drug bust carried out across several Ontario municipalities.

According to the OPP, a 16-month investigation into a drug trafficking network led to the seizure of more than $32 million worth of illegal cannabis and its derivatives.

The investigation also led to the arrest of 21 reported members or associates of a criminal organization who now face 118 offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), Cannabis Act and Criminal Code, including charges related to organized crime.

The OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) and London Police Service (LPS) launched Project Gainsborough in June 2020 after police say they became aware of the network operating in the London area.

Police said they were able to identify a sophisticated criminal organization responsible for an illegal cannabis website with delivery service in London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto.

“The members and associates of this criminal organization have also been involved in the exportation of illegal cannabis and cannabis derivatives to numerous locations domestically and worldwide, including Europe and South America,” an OPP press release said.

Throughout the course of the investigation, two clandestine cannabis extraction labs were uncovered in Brampton and Middlesex County, both of which have since been decommissioned and dismantled.

Earlier this month, on Nov. 3, police agencies across the province executed 15 search warrants at locations in London, Hamilton, Toronto, St. Thomas, Middlesex County and Norfolk County.

As a result, police seized:

  • 495 kilograms of illegal cannabis resin/oil;
  • 7,166 kilograms of illegal cannabis bud;
  • Approximately 10,000 packages of illegal cannabis edibles;
  • 2,773 kilograms of illegal cannabis shake;
  • 185 kilograms of illegal cannabis shatter;
  • 15,343 illegal cannabis plants;
  • 65 kilograms of psilocybin;
  • 124 grams of cocaine;
  • 28 oxycodone pills;
  • 50 hydromorphone pills;
  • Grow equipment valued at more than $653,000;
  • Six firearms and ammunition, including four handguns, a .22 cal rifle and a 12 gauge sawed off shotgun;
  • More than $53,000 CAD currency; and
  • Six vehicles as offence-related property, with a combined value of approximately $163,000.

Of those arrested in connection to this case, two are from the Hamilton area:

Zane Watson, 33, from Hamilton is charged with the commission of an offence for a criminal organization- contrary to section 467.12 (1) of the Criminal Code; Possess cannabis for the purpose of distributing contrary to section 9 (2) of the Cannabis Act; and Unauthorized possession of a weapon contrary to section 91 (2) of the Criminal Code.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 3.

Deborah Watson, 53, from Stoney Creek is charged with the commission of an offence for a criminal organization- contrary to section 467.12 (1) of the Criminal Code; and Possession cannabis for the purpose of distributing contrary to section 9 (2) of the Cannabis Act.

She too will appear in court on Dec. 3 to answer the charges.

Of the others arrested, 14 are from London, two are from St. Thomas and three are from Tillsonburg and they range in age from 21 to 73.

 

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