DRUG BUST REVEALS POT AND COCAINE PIPELINE
High-grade Canadian marijuana is shipped south to the United States, often by the tonne, then sold or swapped for cocaine that's smuggled north. It's an exchange of drugs police on both sides of the border have been aware of for years.
But rarely has the trade seen the scale of arrests and seizures announced yesterday in Toronto by Canadian and U.S. drug-enforcement officers.
In all, 24 people -- 18 Canadians and six U.S. residents -- face a total of more than 250 drug-related charges, stemming from a series of co-ordinated arrests last week in Southern Ontario and Sterling Heights, Mich.
"This [two-way traffic] is something we've always believed is happening," said Detective Sergeant John Decourcy of the Toronto drug squad. "This investigation confirms it."
Also scooped up were 48 kilograms of cocaine and almost 600 kilos of marijuana, with a joint net value placed at more than ****million, together with 200 tablets of ecstasy, $***** in cash, 14 vehicles, several houses and a 9 mm handgun.
The bulk of the charges allege trafficking in and/or exporting hydroponically grown marijuana -- a lucrative export for Canadian drug dealers because of the comparatively harsh U.S. penalties attached to marijuana cultivation. Police said yesterday most of the marijuana was grown in the Greater Toronto Area and British Columbia and shipped by car, truck and boat to the Detroit area.
At least six suspects face charges of trafficking in both marijuana and cocaine, involving both importation and exportation.