THE STAR (CANADA) – Thirteen people – 12 of them from the GTA (Canada) – are facing 48 charges after an international investigation into illegal drug and firearm smuggling, police said Wednesday.
Ontario Provincial Police Chief Supt. Rick Barnum and seven other law enforcement representatives made an announcement about the 18-month investigation into firearms and drug smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border.
Dubbed Project Monto, it began in 2014 as an investigation by the Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau that looked into drug smuggling into Canada from Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Guyana and California. It also looked into illegal handgun shipments from Florida.
Investigators found that cocaine and other illegal drugs were being sold to Newfoundland and Labrador from the GTA. A total of 123 kilograms of cocaine was seized – worth about $12.2 million according to police. Four vehicles, 22 handguns, and $146,000 Canadian were also seized.
Most of the cocaine was found by security staff working at several major Canadian airports, according to Barnum. He wouldn’t elaborate on how or where these drug shipments were found.
The investigation included local police, the OPP, the RCMP, the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. About 100 officers were involved at any given time, said Barnum.
Police served warrants for the 12 charged in the GTA about a week ago. Barnum said that a number of other suspects have been charged in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the United States, but didn’t say how many there were. One of the accused was listed as being from Georgetown, Guyana, and remains at large.
The 13 accused have been charged with a range of offenses, from importing cocaine to firearms possession to fleeing police. They range in age from 24 to 63.