Police north of Toronto seize millions worth of illegal pot, several exotic animals

AURORA, Ont. — Police north of Toronto have seized millions of dollars worth of illegally grown cannabis in a series of raids that also uncovered several exotic animals.

York Regional Police say the operation, dubbed Project Green Sweep, targeted 15 locations in communities such as Markham, King, Stouffville and East Gwillimbury.

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Officers seized nearly 29,000 plants and more than 1,800 kilograms of harvested cannabis, as well as firearms, crossbows and a stun gun.

At one location in Schomberg, police say they found "several exotic animals" — including three kangaroos and two zebras. They say animal control is investigating.

York Police Chief Jim MacSween is calling on Health Canada to close loopholes in its medical cannabis licensing legislation.

He says organized crime groups are exploiting the system to generate profits and fund other criminal activity.

Natalie Mohamed, a Health Canada spokeswoman, said registered individuals are only authorized to produce and possess cannabis for their own medical purposes or for a person they are designated to produce for.

She said it is illegal for them to distribute or sell cannabis to anyone else.

"As in any regulatory framework, there will be instances where individuals choose to operate outside of the law," she said in a statement.

"In instances where evidence of illegal activity is brought to our attention, the Department takes appropriate action, which could include revocation or refusal of registrations."

Mohamed said Health Canada actively supports law enforcement by providing a dedicated service to confirm, when necessary, that specific individuals are authorized to possess or produce a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2020.

© Kipling Citizen