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Kelowna  

B.C. government seeks seizure of properties, bank accounts, following 'ChronFather' bust in Kelowna, Rock Creek and Calgary last December

Accounts frozen after bust

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated no criminal charges have been laid in the matter, but criminal charges were laid in February in Alberta against Chandler Cannon, Tyson Ogilvie and Reid Dahl.

The B.C. government is looking to seize several Interior properties, and the funds held in a number of bank accounts, following a massive joint drug bust in Kelowna, Beaverdell and Calgary last December.

The large police-operation dates back to April 2021, when the Calgary Police Service began investigating an online cannabis and psilocybin mushroom distributor through the website, thechronfather.ca.

After an officer purchased $300 in psilocybin and $270 in cannabis through the site in 2021, the Calgary Police Service executed simultaneous search warrants at properties in Calgary, Kelowna and Beaverdell on Dec. 7 and 8. Police say they seized 2,636 kilograms of dried cannabis and cannabis plants, 7.2 kilograms of shatter, cannabis oils/resin and edibles, along with what they claimed was more than $85,000 worth of psilocybin in both dried and gummy forms.

The CPS said two people were arrested during the joint operation, one of whom was Kelowna resident Chandler Cannon. Cannon, 40, now faces a criminal charge out of Alberta for possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000.

Meanwhile, Cannon's son, 20-year-old Tyson Ogilvie, and 21-year-old Reid Dahl were charged with trafficking psilocybin mushrooms and cannabis and possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000. Both are residents of Calgary.

All three accused are scheduled to next appear in court on May 2.

The day before the raids were conducted, B.C.'s Director of Civil Forfeiture obtained a court order to freeze a number of bank accounts allegedly connected to the ChronFather distribution operation.

On Monday, Justice Catherine Murray ordered an extension of the “interim preservation order” which has frozen several bank accounts allegedly connected to the drug operation.

“As alluded to earlier in these reasons, according to the evidence, the investigation is ongoing," wrote Justice Murray in her decision.

She noted the accounts need to remain frozen to ensure the funds aren't moved before the investigation is complete. She alluded to an incident in December when the BC Civil Forfeiture Office messed up the banking details of some of the accounts they had meant to freeze.

“Shortly after obtaining the order, the Director discovered that some of the bank account details were wrong, meaning that some accounts, including one belonging to Hidden Gem, were not protected by the [interim preservation order],” she wrote. “Before the Director was able to vary the IPO to correct the bank details, Hidden Gem emptied out its erroneously detailed account.”

The CPS alleges the thechronfather.ca collected more than $11 million through its illicit sales of cannabis and mushrooms in 2021 alone, before it was shut down in December. Police claim the site had been operating since August 2018.

The Civil Forfeiture suit alleges Cannon “maintains the [thechronfather.ca] for receiving and processing the orders for cannabis and magic mushrooms.” Cannon was one of the two people arrested during the December raids.

In a response to the civil claim, Cannon denies all of the allegations against him.

“The defendants have not engaged in any unlawful activity at all, or in any unlawful activity that has resulted in financial gain or in any form of violence of harm to the public,” Cannon says.

He also claims the police breached his Charter rights during the investigation, which “reveal a serial pattern of disregard for the defendants' rights.”

The B.C. government says properties at 5631 Rittich Road in Kelowna and 3-325 and 4-325 Solomon Road in Beaverdell were used to “grow, cultivate, and process illegal cannabis,” which was then shipped to a Calgary property and sold across Canada through the website.

Police found 2,290 cannabis plants at the Rittich Road property, and a combined 3,223 plants between the two properties at Solomon Road. An additional 637 pounds of dried cannabis was found at the Solomon Road properties.

The civil forfeiture suit claims the money made through the sale of the cannabis and mushrooms was transferred by Cannon into accounts held by a numbered company which was controlled by Cannon, in addition to accounts held by World Media Marketing Inc. and Hidden Gem Marketing Ltd.

The suit claims Cannon's numbered company was paying for the utilities at the Rittich and Solomon road properties.

The suit also says several people held Health Canada Cannabis Growing Authorizations to grow medical cannabis at the Rittich Road and Solomon Road properties, but the cannabis being produced was being distributed contrary to the Cannabis Act.

In addition to the Rittich and Solomon road properties, the BC government is also looking to seize Cannon's property on Brentwood Road in Kelowna's Black Mountain area, which he bought in March 2021. During the December raids, police say they found 10 kilograms of packaged cannabis at the Brentwood home, along with $53,000 in cash.

The government claims all three properties, in addition to the funds in the frozen bank accounts, are proceeds and instruments of unlawful activity.

The Director of Civil Forfeiture says this unlawful activity includes drug trafficking, selling and cultivating illicit cannabis, laundering the proceeds of unlawful activity and failure to declare taxable income. But despite these allegations, Chandler has only been criminally charged with one count of possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000.

While the Crown must prove criminal charges “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil matters face a lower standard of proof – “on a balance of probabilities.”­

The closure of the ChronFather website did not go unnoticed among customers, with a user posting on Reddit's Canadian Mail-Order Marijuana subreddit on Dec. 12 asking “did the chronfather get shut down?”

“Yes, we'll all be able to sleep better now knowing there'll be a lot less pot smokers out terrorizing our neighbourhoods at night,” one Reddit user responded sarcastically.



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