Five teams, five days, one mission. Municipal, provincial and federal police services joined forces recently to conduct a five-day outdoor marijuana eradication operation where more than $6 million worth of plants were seized from various location, including one in Flamborough.
On September 8, Hamilton Police’s Vice and Drug Unit seized more than 1,600 plants from a property located on Hwy. 8 in Flamborough. Four individuals were arrested at the scene and charged with a number of drug-related offences.
Charged with Possession for the Purpose and Production of Marijuana are three residents of Stoney Creek: Hoa Nguyen, 31, Tom Lin, 34 and Phuong Nguyen, 35. Khoi Nguyen, 42, of Kitchener, was also arrested and charged at the scene.
According to Detective Constable Frank Mossuto of the Hamilton Police Service’s Vice and Drug Unit, the five-day eradication operation, dubbed Project Sabot, saw Hamilton, Halton and Brantford police join forces with Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to canvass the Flamborough area as well as other areas within the Halton and Golden Horseshoe areas via helicopter.
“Once they fly over and confirm it (an outdoor grow-operation), we set up a perimeter and set up teams to eradicate the marijuana,” said Mossuto, adding that the illicit plants are of such a distinct colour that the pilot, police and spotters can easily detect the plants from above.
Throughout the course of the operation, 6,200 marijuana plants were seized. According to police, 2,000 of these were located within the city of Hamilton.
So far this year, Hamilton Police’s Vice and Drug Unit has destroyed $16 million worth of marijuana.
While outdoor grow-ops are common in rural areas such as Flamborough, Mossuto explained that community residents should remain vigilant and contact police if they notice any individuals walking out of a field, carrying plants. “If there is any activity where there shouldn’t be, that’s another indicator,” he said.
“They try their best to conceal them (the plants) and a lot of the times, the farmers themselves don’t even know they are there,” said Mossuto.
“Our goal,” he stressed, “is to get as much of it out of the cornfields because it is going to end up in a criminal’s hands. We want to get it out of there before they do.”