ALLEGED DRUG-SMUGGLING MASTERMIND ARRESTED
Sat, 15 Jul 2006
The Globe and Mail
A 36-year-old Scarborough man will spend the weekend behind bars pending an extradition ruling stemming from one of Australia's largest seizures of the drug ecstasy.
The alleged mastermind of a Canada-to-Australia smuggling operation involving 1.2 million ecstasy tablets weighing more than 350 kilograms, was picked up by provincial police in a traffic stop Thursday near Bowmanville, Ont.
He was brought to Toronto by the Toronto Police Service's fugitive squad and appeared in court yesterday at 361 University Ave., for the start of an extradition hearing.
Two Australians, another Canadian and two men from China and Pakistan were already in Australian custody.
They have been charged with helping ship the pills from Vancouver to the port of Melbourne via Hong Kong, concealed in a shipping container packed with printing ink.
The street value of the drugs, which reached Australia on June 4, was placed at $34-million.
Importing narcotics to Australia carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Australian police believe the ecstasy, also known as MDMA, was being made in Canada and this was far from the first cross-border interception.
"We've got a big trade going on with the U.S., now we're seeing it go into other foreign markets," said RCMP Superintendent Ron Allen, who heads the force's drug operations in the Greater Toronto Area.
The precursor ingredients used to manufacture ecstasy are commonly imported from the Netherlands, and, increasingly, Eastern Europe, India and China.
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