WATERLOO -- Sixteen people are facing more than 200 charges after a Canada-wide investigation uncovered an illegal manufacturing and distribution operation, trafficking tobacco and cannabis out of a facility on Six Nations Territory.

In a Thursday news release from the Ontario Provincial Police, officials say Project CAIRNES began in July 2018.

Investigators say that tobacco was being assembled into contraband cigarettes at the Six Nations facility, trafficked to other parts of Ontario and Canada, including B.C., and then sold on the street.

The team also uncovered drug trafficking networks that were shipping large quantities of illicit cannabis weekly from British Columbia to Ontario.

OPP say the facility in Six Nations was operated by an organized crime group from the Greater Toronto Area.

"While this investigation has aimed to dismantle this one particular group and their blatant disregard for the regulations surrounding tobacco, there are many operating simultaneously,” said OPP Detective Inspector Jim Walker in a statement.

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Police arrested six people on April 18, and laid 98 charges including conspiracy to commit murder, firearms possession, drug trafficking and driving-related offences.

Throughout the investigation, police also found evidence relating to cocaine and fentanyl trafficking operations in the GTA.

On June 1, investigators executed 13 search warrants in and around Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Police arrested another 10 people, and laid another 120 charges.

All of the accused have been released from custody, and are scheduled to appear in court in July and August.

In total, Project CAIRNES led to the seizure of:

  • 11.5 million contraband cigarettes, with a street value in Ontario of approximately $942,000 and a street value in British Columbia of approximately $2.6 million
  • 1,714 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of $2.5 million
  • Three handguns and associated ammunition
  • A cocaine press
  • 1.14 kilograms of cocaine
  • 10.2 kilograms of Piperidone
  • 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl
  • $236,750 in CAD currency
  • Seven vehicles as Offence-Related Property

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