Year-long investigations conducted by York regional police, Project Moon and Project Zen, have finally paid off as police arrest 60 members of a drug trafficking organization operating in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario.

In addition to arresting 42 members who now face 118 criminal charges, police managed to seize more than 20,000 illegally grown cannabis plants, roughly 560 kilograms of dried cannabis, 23 kilograms of methamphetamine, 15,300 MDMA pills, nine pounds of mushrooms, 400 Viagra pills, $220,000 in currency, and four firearms including a Tech 9 machine gun with a silencer, reports City News’ reporter Michael Talbot.

And this was just the result of Project Moon.

According to Mike Slack, superintendent of Organized Crime and Intelligence for York Regional Police, it appears that the crime network’s business strategy was to grow marijuana in rural factories to sell it on the black market. They then used the proceeds to produce and sell harder drugs such as methamphetamine and MDMA which constituted the bulk of their profits.

“This entire synthetic drug network was primarily funded through the illicit cultivation and sale of cannabis,” he said

“Each day hundreds of pounds of cannabis were being supplied to the illicit market,” said Slack. “None of it was going to legitimate licence holders. Instead it was financing the synthetic drug trade …”

Project Zen focused on the drug trade operating out of Vaughan, Ontario that was producing and distributing fentanyl.

Following search warrants, police managed to seize the largest quantity of fentanyl in the York regions history, over five kilograms, as well as five semi-automatic handguns, over $270,000 in cash, 19 kilograms of cocaine, 16.5 kilograms of methamphetamine pills, and more than 56 kilograms of cannabis. 8 people were then arrested as a result of Project Moon which began in early 2019.

Overall, tens of millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs and other criminal materials were seized. Furthermore, many of the members of these drug organizations also had connection with various gangs in the area, and it is possible that new leads may be ascertained.