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Mounties in Merritt, B.C. have arrested 16 people with ties to the Lower Mainland for allegedly running an illegal cannabis-growing operation.

Officers from Merritt RCMP executed a search warrant on a rural property in their area on Thursday, police said in a news release.

Inside a large commercial building, officers found approximately 800 marijuana plants at various stages of growth, police said. They also found 16 people inside, all of whom were released at the scene.

Charges against the suspects are pending, police said, adding that the plants and related growing equipment had been seized.

“This number of cannabis plants would equate to one cannabis cigarette for every person living in the community of Kelowna. This operation would produce that amount at least 3 times per year,” said Merritt RCMP Cpl. Derrick Francis in the news release. “The impact of that amount of cannabis not ending up on the streets of our community or any other community is immeasurable.”

While cannabis is legal in Canada, Merritt RCMP noted in their release that the operators of illegal grow-ops typically do not report their illicit income, and therefore do not contribute tax dollars from that income to their communities.