Nearly 29 kilograms of powder cocaine and 20 kilograms of phenacetin to cut it with. Almost 700 kilograms of the crystal methamphetamine precursor ephedrine and a sizable amount of ketamine and crystal meth. About $308,000 in cash, likely proceeds from selling drugs. And exactly 3,905 illegally-grown cannabis plants. That’s the haul—about $17 million worth—Toronto police brought in as a result of a large scale drug bust on April 25, 2019, when the Organized Crime Enforcement Drug Squad executed 29 search warrants and netted eight arrests.
“Project Dos” Drug Investigation Makes Historic Bust
Officers involved in April’s drug bust are calling it the largest seizure of illegal narcotics by Canadian police in history. The Toronto Police Service held a news conference about the raids on Thursday, explaining that all 29 search warrants were connected to a large-scale illegal drug distribution investigation codenamed “Project Dos.”
TPS executed the search warrants across the province of Ontario, in Toronto, Vaughan, Kitchener and Stoney Creek. But the bulk of the arrests took place in Toronto, where seven individuals ranging from 19 to 38 years of age were taken into custody. All are facing multiple high-level drug trafficking charges and possession of proceeds of crime charges. According to a news release, Toronto police say the illegal drug distribution network was large enough to generate profits in the tens of millions of dollars.
The suspects are scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall on Wednesday, June 12.
Canada’s Legalization of Cannabis Lets Police Prioritize High-Level Organized Crime
The cocaine, cannabis, cash and chemicals Toronto police seized as a result of Project Dos raids likely represents a not-insignificant portion of illicit substances and proceeds from the illegal drug market. And that’s exactly the kind of law enforcement action many marijuana legalization advocates hoped would come about as a result of ending the criminalization of marijuana.
There are still plenty of marijuana-related crimes on the books in Canada, of course. There are laws against cultivating cannabis without a license or selling it without a license, and against distributing it or manufacturing it without a license. Edibles are still unauthorized on the retail market. But unless they’re caught under the influence of THC behind the wheel or driving with an open container, cannabis consumers have little to fear under Canada’s historic Cannabis Act.
Yet Canadian police agencies have been relentlessly pursuing unauthorized cannabis operators, especially retailers. These controversial enforcement actions have highlighted inequalities in Canada’s emerging retail cannabis industry. Some have argued that the limited availability and accessibility of legal, authorized cannabis retailers excludes low income individuals and people with disabilities.