Police bust major opium importation ring with ties to Iran: Project Ovizeri
Police arrested 11 people after seizing heroin and opium hidden inside heavy electrical motors en route to Toronto from Iran, RCMP officers said Thursday morning.
After a 15-month investigation, the arrests took place in nine locations across the GTA on Wednesday. Police seized 60 kilograms worth of opium and 1.5 kilograms of heroin and 10,000 ecstasy pills bound for Toronto and York Region.Dubbed Project Ovizeri, the investigation is a joint effort between the Canada Border Services Agency, The Toronto Police Major Drug Unit and the RCMP Greater Toronto Area Drug Section.
RCMP Superintendent Rick Penney characterized the bust as a major victory in stopping the flow of hard drugs into Canada.
“We can’t say that we shut it down absolutely because the source of supply is immense,” he told reporters. “We actively frustrated a loosely organized criminal organization operating in the GTA which was importing drugs and distributing those
products on the streets of Toronto,” Supt. Penney said.
The drugs were hidden in shipments of heavy electrical motors and hydraulic pistons that arrived in Toronto by air from Iran. The RCMP say:
“As a result of the interception of a shipment of opium in January 2009, investigators were able to create an historical time line of opium shipments dating back to 2005. The shipments, destined for Toronto and York Region, originated in the Middle East and followed various shipping routes through Europe and North America.
Using information from the shipments to locate the suspects, police conducted an extensive investigation and gathered evidence linking a loosely-structured Middle Eastern criminal enterprise to various importations totalling 37 kilograms of opium as well as trafficking approximately 1.5 kilograms of heroin.”
“These shipments are an example of more sophisticated concealment method being used by drug gangs today,” said Linda Robertson of the Canada Border Services Agency.
Toronto Police praised the co-operation of the Persian community in the investigation, saying members played an “integral role” in its success.
The following people are facing charges of importing opium, conspiracy to import opium, trafficking heroin
and laundering proceeds of crime:
Shahram Kyani, 42, of Toronto
Hoshang Dejdar, 47, of Richmond Hill
Gboyega Oyegoke, 44
Brampton, Luis Ramos, 53, of Toronto
Oxana Zhurilo, 37, of Thornhill
Marzieh Sulaimani-Manesh, 31, of Toronto
Charged with possession of opium are:
Ahmad Fatahi, 34, of Richmond Hill
Mostafa Nezhadpak , 37, of Richmond Hill.
Ahmad Rajabpour, 45, of Toronto is also charged with of possession of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking. All of the suspects are currently in custody.
Police are still looking for one more suspect.
Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister, released a statement praising the investigation:
“The smuggling of drugs across our border fuels organized crime in Canada. We are committed to giving law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safe. This serves as another example that our efforts are working.”
By Chris Higgins May 13, 2010 – 2:28 pm