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CPSL Hamilton Thunder owner absentee landlord???

Rocket Robin

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Mentioned way down this article about the huge pot growing bust in Barrie Ontario is the name of Italo Ferrari as the absentee landlord of the building... I have this feeling this is the same name as the Hamilton Thunder owner. The article quotes an interview with the Hamilton Spectator but I'm too cheap to pay for an online subscription so I'll have to just read it from the Toronto Star...


Jan. 13, 2004. 06:20 AM


Hundreds of marijuana plants grow under lights inside a beer vat at the former Molson's brewery site in Barrie. Police say it's Canada's largest grow operation found.

Police stunned by grow-op's sophistication

Say millions spent on brewery reno

'Factory' pot worth $100M a year



BARRIE—Cutting-edge technology was used at Canada's largest indoor marijuana factory to avoid detection and to grow thousands of illicit plants inside a former Molson brewery, police say.

An estimated 30,000 plants — estimated to be worth $30 million — in various stages of production were discovered by police in the raid at the landmark for southern Ontario commuters. Many of the plants were blossoming inside 25 beer vats that had been converted for incubation.

The operators used an "extremely sophisticated" and professional growing system that turned the giant vats into hot houses filled with hundreds of hydroponic plants, police said.

They used a filtration system that pumped air into the vats and also sucked out the scented air, filtering it and sending it into a self-contained room so the unmistakable aroma was not noticeable.

Police estimate that several million dollars were spent turning about half of the 11,250-square-metre building next to Highway 400 into a sophisticated and staggering marijuana grow operation.

"They needed electrical engineers, heating duct specialists. This is a big-box configuration, not a ma-and-pa operation," said Barrie City Police Chief Wayne Frechette.

A police video of the raid showed a tropical jungle of marijuana plant rows stretching into the distance of the vast building. Other shots showed plants squashed into every available space, on tables, on desks and on the floor. Huge drawers used to dry the harvested marijuana were visible, each one brimming with buds.

The "factory" that operated around the clock and was capable of producing $100-million worth of marijuana annually, likely destined for the international market, had been in operation for at least one year, said OPP Deputy Commissioner Vaughn Collins.

"There's everything from seed to packaged plants for distribution. I suspect we'll be in there for weeks gathering evidence, and our forensic people will be in there for several weeks more dismantling it," said OPP Superintendent Bill Crate.

"There's miles and miles and miles of electrical wire and water hoses. It's incredible."

A former tenant who ran a business from the complex said another of the companies would continually roast coffee beans, which would also mask any smell.

The tenant said internal loading docks — there are external docks as well — would allow the possibility of shipping out products undercover.

And even though the site is visible to thousands of daily commuters, it also provided adequate camouflage, say authorities.

The windowless building has parkland on the east and north sides, Highway 400 to the west and trees to the south, so is not overlooked by other businesses apart from a seasonal garden centre, which is presently closed.

"It's on Highway 400 but the fact of the matter is it's very isolated to the east, to the south and to the north," said Nancy Tuckett, Barrie's director of economic development.

"There's no residential development anywhere to take issue with odours or anything. There's no one around really in the vicinity other than the plant itself so yes, it sounds surprising but the truth be known there's nothing within several hundred metres of the plant."

Police said they are still trying to determine if the huge amount of hydro needed to operate the thousands of lights, heating and watering systems was stolen.

But George Todd, president of Barrie Hydro, said that there was only one electric meter in the building.

Toodd said that the amount of electricity used was considerably less than when the old Molson brewery was in operation.


`I never saw anything go out the door. I saw it coming in'

Former tenant, old Molson Brewery site


"There was nothing unusual to alert anyone to what was going on in there," said Todd.

Police also found dormitory-style living accommodations for up to 50 people.

The elaborate living arrangments came complete with amenities like beds, televisions, fridges, stoves and an eating area.

Vicar Properties, now known as Fercan Developments, bought the property for $8 million on Oct. 5, 2001 from Molson Breweries. On Sept. 25, 2003 a $3-million mortgage was registered.

"We sold the place three years ago. We have no comment," said David Jones, a spokesperson for Molson.

Fercan Developments owns a number of buildings across southern Ontario, including the Hamilton City Centre, and last fall donated the campaign office space for Larry Di Ianni, who became Hamilton's mayor.

"We can not always get up there to check," Italo Ferrari, Fercan's general manager, told the Hamilton Spectator when asked how such a massive operation could take place without him knowing.

"We have properties all over Southern Ontario."

Police said the company leased the Barrie space to about half a dozen businesses, including trucking companies and a bottling company.

A former tenant didn't suspect anything, but in hindsight now realizes there were obvious signs.

Aside from the people living at the plan — "I figured they had nowhere else to go" — the former tenant now suspects the need for 24-hour security, the boiler blowing up one day and constant mechanical upgrades for a paucity of products being shipped from the site.

"There were tonnes of skids of coffee beans.

"That and marble tile," said the tenant.

"I never saw anything go out the door. I saw it coming in."

Police say that a second marijuana grow operation discovered at a commercial plaza at 4921 Hwy 11 North in Oro-Medonte Township, just north of Barrie — where officers seized approximately 3,000 more marijuana plants — is linked to the operation in the former brewery.

A total of nine people have been charged with production and possession of marijuana in connection with the brewery raid.

Charged are:

Michael DiCicco, 60, of Toronto, Robert Bleich, 29, of Stayner, Scott Walker, 34, of St. Catharines, Zoran Stojanovic, 49, of St. Catharines, Tomas Gates, 33, of Corunna, Ont., Craig Walker, 24, of Niagara Falls, Ont., Scott Dillon, 23, of Toronto, Rayne Sauve, 36, of St. Catharines and Edward MacAdam, 43, of Niagara Falls, Ont.

All those charged are being held for a bail hearing in Barrie court, which is scheduled for this morning.

Police would not say if their raid was the result of a tip, only that they anticipate more charges.

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here it is...

'Pot' factory worth $30m

A marijuana "factory" concealed within a sprawling old brewery just steps from one of Ontario's busiest highways is proof Canada's pot problem has reached "epidemic proportions," police said yesterday.

The former Molson brewery in Barrie, visible from Highway 400, one of the province's busiest commuter routes, was raided on the weekend by some 100 city and provincial police officers acting on a tip.

The building is owned by Fercan Developments Inc., which owns the Hamilton City Centre.

Fercan general manager Italo Ferrari said he didn't know anything about the grow operation housed inside the old brewery.

"We cannot always get up there to check," he said when asked about the former brewery. "We have properties all over Southern Ontario."

Inside, police found marijuana with what they said had an estimated street value of $30 million, along with a grow operation of staggering proportions -- the largest and most sophisticated in modern Canadian history.

"This is not a ma-and-pa operation," Barrie police Chief Wayne Frechette wryly told a news conference.

Across a 5,400-square metre complex the size of a football field, police found more than 25,000 pot plants growing everywhere -- even inside the cavernous indoor vats once used to brew beer.

Molson closed the brewery in 2000 and sold it to a company that leases space to about half a dozen businesses. The other companies included trucking companies and a bottling company, police said.

A police video shot shortly after the raid showed the vats teeming with marijuana plants and an elaborate electrical room where hydro was used to power the lights that facilitate the growing process.

Huge drawers, used to spread harvested marijuana out to dry, were seen in the video, each one brimming with buds.

"Commercial marijuana operations have reached epidemic proportions in Ontario; they are in every community and most are controlled by organized crime," said provincial p0lice deputy commissioner Vaughn Collins.

The facility was set up to operate 24 hours a day and included living quarters capable of housing as many as 50 people at once, said OPP Detective Staff Sergeant Rick Barnum.

"Much of Ontario marijuana is destined for U.S. markets, and it's often traded for cocaine brought back into Canada," Collins said.

Nine people were charged, eight with one count each of production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Charged are Robert Bleich, 29, of Stayner; Tomas Gates, 33, of Corunna; Michael DiCicco, 60, and Scott Dillon, 23, both of Toronto; Scott Walker, 34, and Zoran Stojanovic, 49, both of St. Catharines; and Edward MacAdam, 43, and Craig Walker, 24, both of Niagara Falls, Ont.

Rayne Sauve, 36, of St. Catharines, was also charged with one count of production of a controlled substance as well as one charge each of possession of cocaine, possession of ecstasy and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A second grow house was also discovered Sunday just north of the city. Investigators seized more than 30,000 marijuana plants from the two locations.

Police estimate there are some 15,000 illegal marijuana grow operations in Ontario.

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