An organized crime group had allegedly been importing “bulk marijuana” from British Columbia for at least a year, until Toronto police closed in, and seized more than 200 kilograms of product and more than $2 million in cash.
On Monday, Staff Insp. Randy Franks spoke to reporters at police headquarters and laid out the details of Project Green Giant — a drug investigation that was sparked by the discovery of the marijuana being shipped to Toronto.
The marijuana was packed in sealed, double-wrapped bags and packed in plain cardboard boxes, which were sent via courier.
Franks said it was a courier company that tipped off police about the pot being transported.
"A box opened in transit and they called the police," said Franks.
Police began preparing for their eventual raids late last year, which included obtaining banking information about the main suspect.
They seized 138 kilograms of marijuana in the lead-up to the eventual raids that would take place.
Last Thursday, police moved in and executed a series of search warrants.
Police found 44 kilograms of marijuana inside a storage locker at a location on Wicksteed Avenue in Toronto, near Eglinton Avenue East and Laird Drive.
The "main target" of the investigation was arrested in the underground garage of his residence, a few kilometres away on Roehampton Avenue, near Mount Pleasant Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East, said Franks.
Franks said this same individual has told police that he is a contractor. He does not have a criminal record and was not known to police prior to the investigation.
Police also seized cash from safety deposit boxes at two different banks.
The total cash seized included:
- $1,945,130 in Canadian cash
- $462,131 in U.S. dollars
- £1,050 (British pounds)
- €330 (euros)
Franks said that police believe the group was operating only within Canada, despite the presence of foreign currencies.
There was also a search of an industrial unit on Guided Court, near Highway 27 and Steeles Avenue West, in Rexdale.
"This industrial unit was found to have a large-scale hashish production lab," said Franks.
A private residence in Vaughan was also searched, as was a vehicle.
During Thursday’s raids, police seized a total of 67 kilograms of marijuana, along with three kilograms of hashish.
Franks said that seven people were initially arrested, though only four were charged.
Aside from the main target of the investigation, two of the other accused were his "associates," Franks said.
The fourth man was charged with failing to comply with recognizance, though Franks said he was not charged with any of the substantive offences.
Nitesh Tailor, 35, of Toronto, faces 10 charges including four counts of possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000, and multiple counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Antonio Sergi, 50, of Brampton and Edward Vaserbakh, 35, of Toronto each faces four charges, including the production of hashish and possession for the purpose of trafficking both hashish and marijuana.
The accused appeared in court last Friday.