Five charged after RCMP seize $24 million worth of illegal cannabis

Five people are facing multiple charges after Royal Canadian Mounted Police busted a “sophisticated drug trafficking and money laundering scheme,” seizing $24 million worth of cannabis as well as cash.

The charges come five years after the RCMP first began their investigation.

The RCMP released a report on Tuesday detailing the investigation, which was conducted by the Hamilton-Niagara RCMP with help from the Ontario Provincial Police and FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

According to the report, a total of 29,975 cannabis plants were seized by police, along with 7,926 pounds of dried cannabis. Authorities placed the value of the cannabis at around $24 million. Over $1 million in cash was also seized after police executed search warrants on five residences and six “large scale” marijuana grow-ops.

Five individuals, Zu Wen Chang, Lin Li, Bo Hai Chen, En Quan Chen and Jian Hua Toa, are facing a combined twenty-nine charges including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, possession of property obtained by crime, and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Many of the charges centre around violations of the Cannabis Act, which sets forth regulations for the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis and its byproducts.

“This investigation, conducted with the assistance of the OPP and FINTRAC,” said Officer in Charge of District Command, Superintendent Jeff Cooper, “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.”

According to the report, the investigation began in 2017 when authorities took interest in a potential money laundering scheme. This led police to discover that $3 million CAD had been laundered largely via casinos in the Greater Toronto Area and Niagara from the illegal sale of cannabis.

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