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Niagara police bust $34M illegal cannabis operation, arrest 11 people

Police officers seized 17,200 marijuana plants from a facility in St. Catharines.
Police officers seized 17,200 marijuana plants from a facility in St. Catharines. Niagara Regional Police

Niagara Regional Police have busted a massive illegal marijuana grow operation in St. Catharines.

Officers seized $34 million worth of cannabis around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and arrested 11 people who were allegedly tending to approximately 17,200 pot plants at a facility in the area of Third and Main streets.

One person from St. Catharines, several from Scarborough and Markham, Ont., and a resident of New York have been charged with unauthorized production of cannabis.

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Officers with the Guns, Gangs and Grows Unit and the Opioid Enforcement Unit say they launched their investigation in May after receiving complaints from the public.

Niagara police say this is the largest marijuana grow operation they’ve ever investigated.

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All but one of the accused have been released from police custody and are scheduled to make a court appearance in St. Catharines on Sept. 4.

One suspect that has not been identified has a video bail hearing on Wednesday.

Police say illegal operations such as these pose several concerns and potential issues for the community and nearby residents,  including offensive odour and the potential for violence.