Hamilton

More than $3M in drugs and 35 guns seized in Hamilton police investigation

Hamilton police say they've arrested 16 people and seized more than $3 million in drugs and cash after a months-long investigation.

Project Munro led to a total of 213 drug trafficking, drug possession and firearms charges

Hamilton police unveiled the results of a months-long operation on Thursday. It led to millions of dollars of drugs seized and more than a dozen arrests. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton police say they've arrested 16 people and seized more than $3 million in drugs and cash after a months-long investigation.

The service says officers recently executed 24 search warrants at six Hamilton properties in an operation dubbed Project Munro.

The investigation included Ontario Provincial Police, Halton and Niagara police, Hamilton city bylaw, the Ontario Fire Marshall's office and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority.

The collaboration led to 16 arrests, plus the discovery of $1 million worth of processed cannabis, $2 million worth of cannabis plants, $175,000 in cash and $20,000 in other illegal drugs.

"Even though cannabis and related products are now legal, illicit grow operations remain a valid concern as they pose safety risks to the community," police said in a release. 

"For example, modifications like tampering with electrical wiring, installing irrigation devices, industrial exhaust fans, and bypassing utility meters can result in fires or explosions ... proceeds from illicit cannabis sales are used by criminal organizations to purchase weapons and other drugs."

Police also say officers found 35 guns and three heavily plated, high-calibre bullet proof vests.

"Nearly 35 per cent of the firearms seized were found either loaded or unsafely stored. Several firearms had also been modified in order to enhance performance," police said.

Project Munro led to a total of 213 drug trafficking, drug possession and firearms charges.

Police need to continue to collaborate to stop guns and drugs: expert

Stephen Metelsky, a criminology professor at Mohawk College in Hamilton and a retired police sergeant, said in an email it will be hard to hard to keep the profits from cannabis out of the hands of organized crime.

"There is a demand for it in the underground market in Canada and in the USA where in some states it is illegal. Marijuana is still being trafficked into the USA for sale or in exchange for other illicit drugs like cocaine," he said.

"To curb the gun violence and drugs ... projects similar to Munro must continue to be a concentrated and collaborative effort among police services in order to effectively curtail and combat the street level violence playing out in the [Greater Toronto Area] and southern Ontario."

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