Thirteen charged in Rowena Road pot bust (Details)

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SOUTH DUNDAS – SD&G OPP have released more details on the September 21st drug bust on Rowena Road at Shaver Road.

OPP officers from the Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, the Emergency Response Team, Canine Unit, Community Street Crime Unit, and the SD&G detachment, along with Canada Border Services and the Ottawa Police Service, executed a warrant at 11515 Rowena Road at about 9:30 a.m.

Officers seized over 1,700 Cannabis plants, and over 200 kilograms of processed Cannabis, along with growing and processing equipment.

Police did not release a value of the drugs seized at the scene.

Other police forces in Ontario value Cannabis plants at about $1,000 per plant, and $491 a pound for processed Cannabis. That methodology would value the Rowena Road bust at approximately $1.9 million.

Eleven people from the Greater Toronto Area, one person from Saskatchewan, and one person from New York City, were arrested at the scene and face charges relating to the bust.

Charged are: Jinbao Gao (65), Jin Yun Chen (42), Bijin Zhu (64), Jinchai Zhu (65), Zhenjia Chen (68), and Yihua Chi (64), all from Markham; Fei Lin (50), Wenfang Chen (51), and Yanying Lin (71), all from Scarborough; Yuran Yang (51) from Toronto; Zhujin Zheng (age unknown) from Maple; Youshun Lin (55) from Regina, Saskatchewan; and Zhifang Chen (64), of Brooklyn, New York.

All 13 people were charged with cultivating, propagating or harvesting more than four cannabis plants under Section 12(4)(b) of the federal Cannabis Act.

The accused were released and are scheduled to attend the Ontario Court of Justice in Morrisburg on December 1st.

The Rowena Road Cannabis bust is one of several that occurred in the past week.

On September 25th, Leeds County OPP conducted warrants at three different locations in Leeds County, netting 10,500 plants total. Nearly 6,500 plants were seized near Toledo, 2,500 plants just north of Athens, and 2,000 plants near Frankville. Prince Edward County OPP seized 1,600 plants near Picton, also on September 25th.

OPP East Region Media Relations Coordinator Bill Dickson said he could not confirm if the Rowena Road bust was related to any other Cannabis-related busts. He did say the investigation was continuing.

The Rowena Road farm, which had 30 temporary greenhouses comprising 12,000 square metres of growing space, has been cultivating the Cannabis crop since this spring.

The unnamed owner of the property received a building permit from the Municipality of South Dundas on May 11th according to documents received through a Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request filed by The Leader. The documents did not release the property owner’s name or who the building permit was issued to. Both names were redacted.

The municipality issued the building permit early in the province’s reopening plan due to COVID-19, which had several restrictions on projects permitted.

“We have received a revised definition of ‘essential services’ which has permitted us to provide your building permit,” said Andrew Turner, deputy chief building official for South Dundas.

South Dundas council asked municipal staff, at its September 8th council meeting, to work on drafting a bylaw to address the numerous Cannabis operations that are operating in South Dundas.

“We have nothing to regulate what we’ve got,” said mayor Steven Byvelds. “It’s time to figure something out.”

With files from R. Comfort at The Leader.

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