CFSEU-BC Makes Arrests In International Drug Trafficking Investigation
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC), with the help of the RCMP, Ottawa Police Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, Canada Border Services Agency and Australian Federal Police (AFP) have dismantled an international criminal network involved in the importation, transportation, and distribution of drugs in both Canada and Australia.
About 30 police officers from British Columbia and Ontario, under the coordination of CFSEU-BC, executed search warrants on residences and properties in Ottawa this past Friday and Saturday. During the operation, two people were arrested in Ottawa on Friday, one man and one woman. Both have since been released from police custody and could be potentially facing numerous drug, fraud and passport-related criminal charges.
This investigation, dubbed E-Namesake, began in May 2012 when CFSEU-BC began investigating an international drug importation and distribution network that involved several people connected to gang activity in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
This complex investigation revealed that in addition to the national distribution of drugs, the scope extended beyond Canada’s borders and this network was shipping drugs, primarily methamphetamine and cocaine, to Australia, possibly since 2009. Additionally, it was also discovered that those involved were using false travel documents to conceal fraudulently obtained identities.
As the investigation progressed, it was also discovered that there was an opportunity for CFSEU-BC investigators to share information with the Surete du Quebec regarding Project Loquace, the Surete’s investigation into a Canada-wide drug trafficking network. CFSEU-BC worked closely with the Surete du Quebec throughout their investigation and that led to Quebec authorities arresting several people, including three key figures in B.C.’s gang conflict, in November 2012.
Officers believe that this group and the targets of the investigation may have also been trafficking firearms and were directly or peripherally involved in gang violence both in British Columbia and other parts of Canada.
An investigation into members of the international syndicate was commenced by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in June 2012. As a result of the investigation, the AFP identified the syndicate was planning for the importation of border controlled drugs into Australia from Canada. In December 2012, the drugs, consisting of 45.5 kg of methamphetamine and 5.2 kg of cocaine, were detected by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service following advice from the AFP. The drugs were concealed within items of furniture.
As a result of these investigations, the AFP arrested and charged two Canadian nationals in Australia with drug possession offences on December 7th, 2012.
Following these arrests, the AFP continued to provide intelligence to CFSEU-BC.
The potential street value of the seized crystal meth in Australia during the course of the AFP’s portion of the investigation was about $34,099,050 AUD. This value was calculated on a per gram price of about $750 AUD for meth in New South Wales in late 2012. The street value of the cocaine seized was about $1,259,357 AUD for a total street value of $35,358,407 AUD. This value was calculated on a per gram price of $250 AUD in New South Wales in late 2012.
AFP Manager Crime Operations Commander Jennifer Hurst said this operation is an example of the collaborative work done by the AFP and its international law enforcement partners to disrupt the international trade of illicit drugs.
“The success of this operation could not have been achieved without the excellent cooperation and longstanding valued relationship with the Canadian authorities,” Commander Hurst said.
“An investigation of this complexity, dealing with international laws, and requiring coordination with police agencies from across Canada and around the world demonstrates our collective commitment to fighting organized crime no matter how far the tentacles reach,” says CFSEU-BC Chief Officer Dan Malo. “Just because you’ve left British Columbia doesn’t mean that we won’t investigate you to make the streets of our country safer.”
Over the course of the investigation in British Columbia, CFSEU-BC executed two search warrants on a Port Coquitlam warehouse in December 2012 where one kilogram of cocaine and one kilogram of crystal meth were seized. The weekend’s warrants resulted in the seizure of a number of items that officers will be examining to further support criminal charges.
The pair that was arrested, a 47-year-old man from Ottawa and a 42-year-old woman from Ottawa, was released from custody pending the laying of charges by Crown Counsel. Potential charges range from exporting a controlled substance, to fraud, impersonation, and passport-related offences. Despite two people being arrested, CFSEU-BC is continuing to investigate and expect more arrests in the coming weeks and months.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC would like to thank the RCMP, the Ottawa Police Service, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Australian Federal Police for their assistance and support during the course of this investigation.
For more information on the Surete du Quebec’s Project Loquace please visit: www.suretequebec.gouv.qc.ca/acutalities/2012/bilan-operation-loquace.jsp and www.suretequebec.gouv.qc.ca/actualities/2013/seconde-phase-projet-loquace.jsp.
For more information on the Australian Federal Police and their efforts with respect to international drug trafficking please visit: www.afp.gov.au.
CFSEU-BC Media Spokesperson: Sgt. Lindsey Houghton
Desk: (778) 290-3099 Cell: (604) 764-9085
Surete du Quebec Media Liaison:
Australian Federal Police: