Mounties say they are working with Mexican authorities after seizing about $9 million worth of cocaine and crystal meth in Vancouver that is believed to have come from Mexican drug cartels.
In recent weeks, the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted seven marine shipping containers coming through the port of Vancouver. The containers, which were declared to contain “crafts,” had come from Mexico, police say.
When suspicious officers inspected the containers, they found thousands of clay bricks and lawn ornaments bound for a Vancouver landscaping-type business.
Cocaine and crystal methamphetamine was found to have been baked inside the items, police say.
A joint investigation by Vancouver police and the federal drug squad resulted in five arrests on Sept. 27 outside a Marpole bus loop.
A sixth arrest was made at a nearby business connected to one of the men arrested.
Police are withholding the name of the business because the international investigation continues, Staff-Sgt. Dave Goddard said at a news conference Tuesday.
Representatives from the Vancouver Police Department, the RCMP and the border services agency, together with burly undercover officers, surrounded a four-metre table stacked with bags of coke and meth, as well as the broken bricks that secreted the drugs.
Police say more charges are likely and that they are investigating suspected ties to local organized crime, but they are tight-lipped about which gangs they believe are behind the seized shipment.
Three men — previously unknown to police — have been charged with conspiracy to import narcotics, police say.
They are 32-year-old Mexican national Eduardo Sierra Gonzalez, 51-year-old Francisco Javier Gomez of Vancouver and 42-year-old Jason Quinn Lawrence of Vancouver.
The value of the drugs is estimated between $8.7 million and $9.7 million.
Goddard said it’s possible the coke and meth were part of a deal that involved B.C. bud being shipped south in exchange — a common transaction that police have cited in ties between B.C. and Mexican organized crime groups.
Crystal meth is produced in major quantizes in B.C., and usually smuggled south, not the other way around.
“It’s almost an anomaly, with crystal meth coming in,” Goddard said. “It’s like someone importing marijuana to B.C.”
Goddard said the seizure was one of the largest in recent memory, but that taking about one-million doses of hard drugs off the street is still not expected to put a dent in supply — and that street prices for cocaine will likely remain stable.
At the news conference, Insp. Brad Desmarais, head of the VPD drugs and gangs section, said 50 Vancouver officers took part in the bust, which was led by the RCMP.
RCMP Supt. Brian Cantera said $17,000 in cash was taken from the alleged drug dealers during the seizure.
No weapons were seized, Goddard said.
By Sam Cooper
October 5, 2010