Five Ontario residents are facing numerous drug-related charges after what police are calling the largest seizure of methamphetamine and clandestine drug labs in Ontario's history.
Members of the Asian Organized Crime Task Force – which includes police forces from across Ontario and Canada – revealed details Thursday of the investigation into a crime ring they allege involved large-scale production of methamphetamine.
They said seven search warrants had been executed in July at residences and businesses across the Greater Toronto Area, along with two in the Campbellford and Warkworth areas of eastern Ontario.
Investigators say that among the drug labs they dismantled was one in Warkworth, northwest of Trenton, which was used to produce raw methamphetamine. Police said it's one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever discovered in Ontario.
A pill-pressing lab in nearby Campbellford was found to have been guarded with a bear trap shrouded by leaves.
Other drug labs were found in the Greater Toronto Area, including a pill-pressing operation in Aurora, north of the city.
In total, police say 120 kilograms of pure methamphetamine, equivalent to about four million pills, were seized, along with more than 110,000 meth pills, 14 kilograms of meth powder, five vehicles and $81,000 in cash.
"Clandestine drug labs, and the drugs they manufacture, have a toxic and destructive impact on the lives of people, their communities and the environment," Deputy OPP Commissioner Scott Tod said Thursday at a news conference where the raids were announced.
"They can also lead to a wide spectrum of violent acts and property crimes involving criminal organizations," he said.
Chief Supt. Mike Armstrong, commander of the OPP's Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, said clandestine drug labs can be found anywhere.
"Both urban and rural areas are not immune," he said, adding his bureau will continue to target such labs.
Jimmy Sut Jhing Ng, 55, and Sui Yuan Zhao, 39, both of Campbellford, Kok King Chao, 49, and Joey Sui Hung Mo, 45, both of Aurora, and Chun Kit Wong, 28, of Markham, all face charges related to drug production and trafficking.
The pair from Campbellford, Ng and Zhao, are also charged with setting a trap with intent to cause bodily harm.
All of the accused are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Oshawa on Monday.
The task force includes officers from Toronto police, Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, York Regional Police, Peel Regional Police and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Police also said there are serious risks to the environment caused by illegal drug production, such as toxic waste. Such waste usually ends up being dumped carelessly, resulting in potential contamination of nearby land and waterways, they said.