Accused in a case of illegal cannabis plantations whose suspects had Health Canada authorizations, an established Montreal businessman and his son deny any involvement and say they never knew what was going on in their commercial building.
Esmaelle Torabi, 59, and her son Alexander, 26, were charged with conspiracy and cultivation of cannabis after investigators from the ACCES Cannabis unit of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) determined that suspects had illegally grown marijuana in premises in the basement of their commercial building located at the corner of Saint-Patrick and Beaulieu streets in Montreal.
During the search, the police did not find any marijuana in the building, as the suspects had left the premises, but they suspect that Mr. Torabi and his son made it easier for them by renting the premises to them knowingly. cause.
During the investigation, authorities requested and obtained that Mr. Torabi’s business building, valued at $6 million, be blocked for the purpose of forfeiture as offense-related property (which was used to commit an offense ).
“I’ve never done anything illegal. I’ve never sold drugs, “says Mr. Torabi from the outset in an interview with La Presse.
Arriving in Canada in 1984, the businessman said he worked hard to get where he is today.
For 25 years, he has run a carpet import and distribution business, one of the largest in Canada, with 34 employees. Its customers include large and well-known retail chains.
He owns other businesses and buildings, and has dozens of tenants.
His lawyers presented a request to have the blocking order on his building on Saint-Patrick Street, which was causing him a lot of problems with his financial institutions and tenants, lifted as soon as possible.
On March 16, a judge ordered the order lifted, but $635,000, representing the value of the premises allegedly rented by the marijuana growers, is still blocked.
“[The tenants] told me everything was legal. They had authorizations from Health Canada and the City of Montreal. I rented to people who bypassed the system, but I couldn’t know it, “defends the businessman.
Mr. Torabi claims that the premises he and his son had rented to the suspects had nothing to do with his carpet business and that they were accessible via rue Beaulieu and not rue Saint-Patrick.
He adds that it was a real estate agent who approached him so that the producers could rent his premises, that he did not know these future tenants and that these premises were conducive to the legal production of cannabis, because they already had equipment refrigeration unit of the former Da Vinci company.
He and his son maintain that inspectors from Health Canada, the City of Montreal and the Fire Safety Department, as well as employees of service companies, visited the premises rented by the suspects a dozen times, but that the regulations prohibited the owners from entering it.
They claim that after a year and a half of occupancy, following complaints from employees, they terminated the leases and the marijuana growers left the premises about a year ago.
” It does not make sense. We should never have been accused and one day people will know the truth, ”promises Mr. Torabi, who intends to defend himself vigorously in court.