Pubdate: Tue, 14 Sep 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell


42 Arrested In Marijuana Busts

East-End Retailers Said To Have Helped

Two gardening centres in the city's east end were the link for a network of 
indoor pot-growing operations, police alleged yesterday, as they announced 
marijuana production, trafficking and conspiracy charges against 42 people 
and warrants out for five others.

Some of the accused were also charged with theft of electricity.

The charges stemmed from a joint Toronto and York Region police 
investigation, Project Caesar, that found a network of individuals 
"associated" with two retail outlets: Caesar's Garden Centre, at 584 Gordon 
Baker Rd., and Jade Garden Trading, at 335 Nuggett Ave., said a Toronto 
police news release.

Those charged are accused of being involved in setting up grow operations 
and providing equipment, expertise and, in some cases, marijuana seedlings. 
The "organization" was also distributing the final dried product, the 
release said.

During the investigation, which began in January, 36 grow operations were 
identified and dismantled in Toronto and York Region. A total of 16,724 
marijuana plants were seized, with a street value exceeding $16 million, 
police said. Cash totalling $150,000 was also seized.

Project Caesar will have "a significant impact on the ease with which 
illegal marijuana grow operations have been proliferating in the GTA," 
Toronto police Staff Inspector Dan Hayes said in the release. His force 
dismantled 140 grow-ops last year and 168 in the first six months of 2004, 
which had been generating "vast profits for organized crime" in the city.

Meanwhile, a coalition of public officials told a Montreal news conference 
yesterday that Quebec and British Columbia have the highest number of pot 
plant seizures in Canada.

with files from Canadian Press
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart