Police smash multi-million-dollar drug ring
Ottawa, Montreal police unite in cocaine, hashish busts
Police broke up a multi-million-dollar drug ring dealing in cocaine and hashish and laid 68 charges against 10 people as part of a joint operation to staunch the flow of drugs from Montreal to Ottawa.
The suspects — said to be members of an organized crime ring — had distributed 100 kilograms of cocaine throughout Ottawa in the past year, police say.
On Thursday, police capped the year-long investigation, dubbed Project Midnight, with raids on 10 Ottawa addresses.
The busts netted $2.1 million in cocaine and $330,000 in hashish, a marijuana resin. Police also seized $430,000. In street amounts, a gram of cocaine has a value of $80 to $100 dollars, giving the drugs allegedly distributed last year a street value of about $10 million.
The crime ring was a wholesaler to smaller dealers, Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Pete Gauthier said.
The investigation was able to alert Montreal police to previously unknown traffickers, Cmdr. Denis Mainville said. The Ottawa police request for Montreal police assistance led to five additional arrests in Montreal and neighbouring Laval on Feb. 2. One is believed to be a key player in the drug ring, Mainville said.
Police admitted they weren’t sure how the raids would affect the drug supply on Ottawa streets.
“We certainly haven’t stopped the flow of drugs to our city, but we’ve put a dent in it,” Ottawa police Insp. Jill Skinner said. No one present could put a figure on the quantity of cocaine sold in Ottawa.
Montreal was identified as a main source of drugs for Ottawa. Gauthier said the raids nabbed the ring’s top men in Ottawa, but that police would continue to exchange information to identify Montrealers who may be involved.
No one could say how the drugs had arrived in Montreal. Anti-gang and organized crime units investigated, but officers at the press conference could not link the drug ring to a specific group.
OPP Insp. Ian Grant called the police operation “well run and very effective,” which Skinner attributed to good teamwork. “The only way for us to be effective in battling organized crime is to work together,” Skinner said.
Police raided locations in Vanier, downtown, Barr-haven, near the airport and an area near Carling Avenue and Richmond Road.
Carlo Farina, 30, Ernesto Tomas, 32, Jesse Bourgeau-Teasdale, 23, Venant Anthony Miville, 24, all of Ottawa, are charged with counts of conspiracy to possess for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to traffic, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, participating in a criminal organization, committing an indictable offence to benefit a criminal organization and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000. Farina and Tomas are also charged with instructing a person within a criminal organization.
Julian Campagna, 21, and Emmanuel Firew, 26, of Ottawa are charged with one count each of conspiracy to possess for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to traffic, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and trafficking.
An arrest warrant was out for 29-year-old Christian Munkunda for the same charges.
February 26, 2010
By: Tony Spears
The Ottawa Citizen
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