What’s the big deal? Just some law abidding law enforcement citizens doing some big business for inmates. They’ll just end up at Mimico Correctional Centre also known as Club Mimico.. huge drug market there!! and known for hiring kiddie porn correctional officers.
Two Toronto police officers enlisted the help of a real estate agent to buy and sell properties they converted to marijuana grow operations in order to fuel a massive "criminal enterprise," police said yesterday.
Constables Patrick Lee and Kevin Bourne are two of 20 people charged in connection with a large-scale operation to produce and distribute drugs and launder the proceeds. A realtor, three correctional officers and 14 civilians will appear with the officers in a Newmarket court this morning to face myriad charges, including conspiracy to produce marijuana and participating in a criminal organization.
While not the only corruption scandal to rock the service in recent years, this incident is the first to link members of the Toronto police with marijuana grow-ops.
"It’s a huge disappointment to us as a group," Police Chief Bill Blair said yesterday.
"It is more than a betrayal of office. It is, frankly, a betrayal of all the hard-working and decent men and women of the Toronto Police Service and the policing profession in this country."
The two officers will be suspended from their duties with full pay if they are released from custody, Blair said. They are scheduled to appear in a Newmarket court this morning.
Blair, who said he has asked for the rule concerning their pay status to be changed, expects that they will be released on bail.
"They’ll get full salary until we can deal with employment status," he said.
"That only comes at the end of criminal prosecution."
Both constables are in their 30s, live in York Region and have each spent much of their service in two of Toronto’s most violent communities – areas that police have recently equipped with 32 additional officers for the summer.
Lee began his career eight years ago at 31 Division, which includes the Jane and Finch community. He has been on stress leave for much of the last year, and has been working at the North Collision Reporting Centre as an intake worker.
"I wanted to be able to represent … both my culture and Canadian citizens and help protecting them and serving them," Lee told Citytv in July 2000, when he graduated to become a member of the force.
Bourne has spent the last nine years at 51 Division, which includes Regent Park. He received a teamwork commendation from the service last May.
Three houses, five vehicles, $60,000 in cash, nearly 8 kilograms of marijuana and other drugs, such as ecstasy, and production equipment, were seized early yesterday when officers executed 63 search warrants on businesses, homes, and several cars.
Officers took 23 people into custody around 6 a.m., but charged only 20 people – 19 adults and one youth – with various offences.
Lee is charged with participating in a criminal organization, obstructing justice, laundering the proceeds of crime, producing marijuana, conspiracy to produce marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to traffic and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Bourne is charged with participating in a criminal organization, breach of trust, conspiracy to produce marijuana, possession of marijuana to export and possession of drugs.
A majority of the grow-ops were housed in York Region, police said, although several police services and squads, including Peel Regional Police, the OPP and Toronto Police’s Guns and Gangs Task Force and the drug squad, were involved in the investigation.
Some of the drugs produced by the massive operation were sent south to the United States, police said, but the majority were distributed locally.
Calling the investigation lengthy and complex, police said it began in February 2007 when York Regional Police uncovered several grow-ops and linked one of them to Lee.
Since then, Blair said yesterday, an exhaustive search by the Professional Standards Investigative Support Unit concluded Bourne was connected to the operation as well.
While guarded with details yesterday, police said their investigation included hours of surveillance, witness interviews, document examination and "part 6" techniques, which require judicial authorization.
Those tools include the ability to intercept communications, such as wiretapping.