Owner of Magna Terra marijuana dispensaries arrested, charged after raids


The owner of the Magna Terra marijuana dispensary chain is among seven arrested and charged after police raids on his two Ottawa dispensaries and a private house Tuesday.

The raids resulted in the seizure of a loaded .44 calibre Desert Eagle handgun, marijuana and other drugs, cash, documents and computers and cell phones, according to Ottawa Police.

Seven people, which included four dispensary employees, were charged with:

  • Store firearm carelessly.
  • Possess weapon dangerous to public peace.
  • Possess restricted firearm without holding a license.
  • Possess restricted firearm knowing not holding a license.
  • Possess loaded regulated firearm.
  • Possess firearm obtained by crime.
  • Possess proceeds of crime under $5,000.
  • Possess proceeds of property obtained by crime over $5,000.
  • Possess schedule II substance for trafficking.
  • Three counts of traffic schedule II substance.

Police raided the two Magna Terra dispensaries, one on Carling Avenue and the other on Iber Road in Stittsville. They also raided a house in Centrepointe.

Among those charged were Magna Terra owner Franco Vigile, 29, and Peter J. Vigile, 23, who also worked at the dispensaries. They were charged with six counts of drug trafficking charges and one count of possession of property proceeds of crime under $5,000, the Ottawa Citizen reported Wednesday.

Franco Vigile, owner of Magna Terra. (Facebook)

The same report said that the sister of Franco Vigile, Nina, was charged with six firearms offenses and possession of property proceeds of crime under $5,000.

Marijuana can only legally be obtained from licensed sellers through the mail system and storefront dispensaries are illegal.

“We continue to advise the public that these store front operations are illegal and the laws will be enforced,” said Staff Sgt. Rick Carey of the Ottawa Police Service Drug Unit, in a news release. “Drugs and guns are continually being found in close proximity to each other and anyone thinking illegal drug trafficking from behind a store front counter is safer than on a street corner is fooling themselves.”

Still, Vigile continued expanding his Magna Terra business over the past few months and said that dispensaries fall under a grey area because of pending federal legislation that should legalize marijuana use.

Vigile opened the Stittsville location over the summer to mixed reaction in the community. He also had plans to open a third store on Montreal Road.

“Just because it’s a brick and mortar building does not make it legal,” said Shad Qadri, the councillor for the area, in a November interview with our sister site StittsvilleCentral.ca. “I have no problem with a brick and mortar Tim Horton’s.”

SPECIAL REPORT: Neighbours express mixed views on Iber Road pot shop

Vigile, however, insisted his business was a legitimate source of marijuana for medical purposes and that they operated responsibly. He said nobody without a prescription would be sold the drug.

“We have adequate measures in place to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Vigile said in a November interview. He had previously written an open letter to explain the measures, which require someone to present government ID before being buzzed into the building.

“We take our security seriously and our prescription review process seriously,” Vigile said.

Vigile was released on a $3,000 bail that allows him to return to his two dispensaries in order to close them.

Inside Magna Terra’s Stittsville location. (Supplied)

Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the editor of OttawaStart.com and its sister site StittsvilleCentral.ca. He has a journalism diploma from Algonquin College and has lived in Ottawa most of his life. Twitter: @DevynBarrieNews.


2 Responses

  1. Clayton Casey says:

    It was the only dispensary out there that wasn’t doing price gouging they were giving you an honest medication for your honest but the rest of them are charging you for the five times as much as them to people or family nice never had a bad experience in there and the cop that said the sergeant that said it’s safer to buy drugs on the street he’s an idiot have time you go to the street give the guy your money and they screw off with your money and you don’t get anything

    • Jonesy says:

      Hi Clayton but sorry you are very incorrect. Magna Terra was one of the worst dispensaries for price gouging. I operate the group Bang For Your Bud and in my findings thier prices and method of packaging especially at their Iber Rd location was on average $2-$3 above their competitors as well the product looked terrible coming out of the baggie. Dried and crumbled usually. Although I have to say Mike, Richie and Dory are 3 of the most knowledgable and patient oriented people I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with. The question that isn’t being asked is How is Magna Terra Helping their employees with their legal fees? The answer is they are not so far! Sad

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