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Manitoba RCMP bust large illicit cannabis ring; six people facing charges


Six people have been arrested in connection to an RCMP investigation that started in 2021 focused on the trafficking of illegal cannabis.

RCMP intelligence officer Insp. Joe Telus said this investigation – called Project Decrypt – has connections to another completed RCMP investigation called Project Divergent.

Project Divergent ended in March 2022 with 22 people arrested related to drug trafficking. Telus said it also gave officers access to other drug networks, which ultimately helped give the Project Decrypt investigation a boost.

Through Project Decrypt, RCMP were able to arrest James Robert McGirr, 39. Investigators learned McGirr had acquired a Health Canada licence for a cannabis micro-grow operation – a licence that Telus said was fraudulent.

McGirr was also using legitimate licences from his associates to further funnel cannabis through drug networks, RCMP said.

Police learned McGirr would sell the cannabis and eventually convert the cash into cryptocurrency. He would also help others launder cash into crypto, RCMP said.

On June 8, 2023, RCMP said 10 properties connected to McGirr were searched in the RM of Springfield, while another seven in Winnipeg were also searched.

Police were able to seize more than $6 million in drugs, equipment and other proceeds of crime. RCMP said the seized items ranged from property to lifestyle items and currency. Officers also seized seven guns.

In total, seven people were arrested, including McGirr. Only six people are facing charges as RCMP said the seventh person has died.

All six suspects have since been released from custody and the charges against them have not been proven in court.

Telus noted that while this investigation targeted illicit cannabis, the RCMP is not looking at people who use and grow cannabis legally.

"We are not targeting legal users of cannabis. We are not targeting legal growers of cannabis. We are targeting large-scale operations that are producing illicit product and feeding criminal networks that destroy lives, homes and communities. The RCMP will continue to work tirelessly to disrupt these networks," said Telus at a news conference Tuesday.

Telus added the illegal sale of cannabis can be quite lucrative and it is important for RCMP to intercept these drug networks. Top Stories

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