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Biggest Pot Bust in Canadian History

 
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Ska_Pastora
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 2:23 am    Post subject: Biggest Pot Bust in Canadian History Reply with quote

A massive pot "factory" was discovered last weekend. It was found inside an old Molson Brewery. The police say there are about 30,000 plants, but do not have a official number yet. Just read this article from the Toronto Star...

Quote:
Police stunned by grow-op's sophistication
Say millions spent on brewery reno
'Factory' pot worth $100M a year


BETSY POWELL AND ROBERTA AVERY
TORONTO STAR

BARRIE—Cutting-edge technology was used at Canada's largest indoor marijuana factory to avoid detection and to grow thousands of illicit plants inside a former Molson brewery, police say.

An estimated 30,000 plants — estimated to be worth $30 million — in various stages of production were discovered by police in the raid at the landmark for southern Ontario commuters. Many of the plants were blossoming inside 25 beer vats that had been converted for incubation.

The operators used an "extremely sophisticated" and professional growing system that turned the giant vats into hot houses filled with hundreds of hydroponic plants, police said.

They used a filtration system that pumped air into the vats and also sucked out the scented air, filtering it and sending it into a self-contained room so the unmistakable aroma was not noticeable.

Police estimate that several million dollars were spent turning about half of the 11,250-square-metre building next to Highway 400 into a sophisticated and staggering marijuana grow operation.

"They needed electrical engineers, heating duct specialists. This is a big-box configuration, not a ma-and-pa operation," said Barrie City Police Chief Wayne Frechette.

A police video of the raid showed a tropical jungle of marijuana plant rows stretching into the distance of the vast building. Other shots showed plants squashed into every available space, on tables, on desks and on the floor. Huge drawers used to dry the harvested marijuana were visible, each one brimming with buds.

The "factory" that operated around the clock and was capable of producing $100-million worth of marijuana annually, likely destined for the international market, had been in operation for at least one year, said OPP Deputy Commissioner Vaughn Collins.

"There's everything from seed to packaged plants for distribution. I suspect we'll be in there for weeks gathering evidence, and our forensic people will be in there for several weeks more dismantling it," said OPP Superintendent Bill Crate.

"There's miles and miles and miles of electrical wire and water hoses. It's incredible."

A former tenant who ran a business from the complex said another of the companies would continually roast coffee beans, which would also mask any smell.

The tenant said internal loading docks — there are external docks as well — would allow the possibility of shipping out products undercover.

And even though the site is visible to thousands of daily commuters, it also provided adequate camouflage, say authorities.

The windowless building has parkland on the east and north sides, Highway 400 to the west and trees to the south, so is not overlooked by other businesses apart from a seasonal garden centre, which is presently closed.

"It's on Highway 400 but the fact of the matter is it's very isolated to the east, to the south and to the north," said Nancy Tuckett, Barrie's director of economic development.

"There's no residential development anywhere to take issue with odours or anything. There's no one around really in the vicinity other than the plant itself so yes, it sounds surprising but the truth be known there's nothing within several hundred metres of the plant."

Police said they are still trying to determine if the huge amount of hydro needed to operate the thousands of lights, heating and watering systems was stolen.

But George Todd, president of Barrie Hydro, said that there was only one electric meter in the building.

Toodd said that the amount of electricity used was considerably less than when the old Molson brewery was in operation.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
`I never saw anything go out the door. I saw it coming in'

Former tenant, old Molson Brewery site

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


"There was nothing unusual to alert anyone to what was going on in there," said Todd.

Police also found dormitory-style living accommodations for up to 50 people.

The elaborate living arrangments came complete with amenities like beds, televisions, fridges, stoves and an eating area.

Vicar Properties, now known as Fercan Developments, bought the property for $8 million on Oct. 5, 2001 from Molson Breweries. On Sept. 25, 2003 a $3-million mortgage was registered.

"We sold the place three years ago. We have no comment," said David Jones, a spokesperson for Molson.

Fercan Developments owns a number of buildings across southern Ontario, including the Hamilton City Centre, and last fall donated the campaign office space for Larry Di Ianni, who became Hamilton's mayor.

"We can not always get up there to check," Italo Ferrari, Fercan's general manager, told the Hamilton Spectator when asked how such a massive operation could take place without him knowing.

"We have properties all over Southern Ontario."

Police said the company leased the Barrie space to about half a dozen businesses, including trucking companies and a bottling company.

A former tenant didn't suspect anything, but in hindsight now realizes there were obvious signs.

Aside from the people living at the plan — "I figured they had nowhere else to go" — the former tenant now suspects the need for 24-hour security, the boiler blowing up one day and constant mechanical upgrades for a paucity of products being shipped from the site.

"There were tonnes of skids of coffee beans.

"That and marble tile," said the tenant.

"I never saw anything go out the door. I saw it coming in."

Police say that a second marijuana grow operation discovered at a commercial plaza at 4921 Hwy 11 North in Oro-Medonte Township, just north of Barrie — where officers seized approximately 3,000 more marijuana plants — is linked to the operation in the former brewery.

A total of nine people have been charged with production and possession of marijuana in connection with the brewery raid.

Charged are:

Michael DiCicco, 60, of Toronto, Robert Bleich, 29, of Stayner, Scott Walker, 34, of St. Catharines, Zoran Stojanovic, 49, of St. Catharines, Tomas Gates, 33, of Corunna, Ont., Craig Walker, 24, of Niagara Falls, Ont., Scott Dillon, 23, of Toronto, Rayne Sauve, 36, of St. Catharines and Edward MacAdam, 43, of Niagara Falls, Ont.

All those charged are being held for a bail hearing in Barrie court, which is scheduled for this morning.

Police would not say if their raid was the result of a tip, only that they anticipate more charges.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2004 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 20:24:20 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
Subject: 003 Canada: Wacky Weed?

Newshawk: CMAP http://www.mapinc.org/cmap
Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Contact: editor@sunpub.com
Website: http://www.canoe.com/NewsStand/TorontoSun/home.html
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/457
Author: Tracy McLaughlin
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mjcn.htm (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/molson+brewery

WACKY WEED?

Lawyer Says Public Sees Case As A Joke

BARRIE -- A lawyer representing six of the men charged in connection
with Canada's largest indoor pot bust says the public is "amused" with
the incident and that his clients do not belong in jail. "Most people
find it amusing," said Toronto lawyer Randall Barrs. "It shows that
the public does not see marijuana as a social problem -- on the other
hand if you look at what was produced in that plant before ..." he
said, referring to the former Molson's brewery and bottling plant. "It
is kind of ironic because society does perceive alcohol as a huge problem."

Barrs said several popular comedians have already made jokes about the
huge bust -- including Bette Midler, who called the massive plant
"your one spot stop-and-shop," for booze and pot.

Yesterday, a justice of the peace set free eight of the nine accused
men arrested during a Friday night raid on the massive plant that
police say generated $100 million a year.

All but one was allowed to go free on $10,000 cash bail -- providing
the families could scrounge up the money. Five of the families
couldn't make the bail but promised they would come up with the cash
by today.

"What am I supposed to do -- rob a bank?" one distraught wife said
outside of court.

Before she released them, Justice of the Peace Sue Hilton made a
non-communication order between the men and Vince DeRosa, president of
Fercan Developments, the parent company that owns the massive building
where police found the mammoth marijuana operation.

ORGANIZED CRIME

There is also a non-communication order with Bob Derosa, Lex McGee,
Jeff Olesay and employees that work at any of the existing companies
who also leased spaced in the building, including Fercan Developments,
Multi-Brand Foods, National Roasters, Barrie Good Fish Co., Smitty's
Transport and Arcade Trucking.

Police would not say if there is a connection between those listed in
the non-communication orders and the multimillion-dollar grow
operation said to be headed by organized crime.

In court, as the accused men sat in the prisoner box wearing
handcuffs, Crown attorney John Madden announced that an OPP officer
sent a message asking to adjourn the bail hearings pending further
investigation, but the defence lawyers hotly objected to it.

"I don't know who this OPP officer is, but he is not a lawyer and he
clearly does not know the law," Barrs said, arguing that his clients
have been in jail since Friday and there was already a legal agreement
on the bail conditions. There has already been one adjournment after
the men were first charged before a justice of the peace.

"It is clearly against the law to have this case adjourned again,"
lawyer Bernard Cugleman agreed.

Court heard few details surrounding the case but the Crown said at
least one of the men was seen running away from the plant on the night
of the raid when more than 100 officers swooped in.

HUNG UP PHONE

Bail is only being contested for Michael DiCicco, 60, of Toronto. His
hearing is set for this morning. Lawyers said he was not present
because he was in hospital for minor problems.

Yesterday, a desk operator at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie
confirmed DiCicco was there, but after further questioning, a nurse
denied his presence and hung up the phone.


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