RCMP find $8M of heroin stashed in towels
JIM WILKES/TORONTO STAR
Heroin sent from Pakistan was seized in Toronto after a Halifax scan of boxes and four men were arrested. RCMP Supt. Ron Allen examines one of 81 cartons, which contained more than $8 million of the drug. Slim packages of heroin were concealed within the boxes' corrugated cardboard sides.
Drug sent from Pakistan seized in Toronto after Halifax scan of boxes; four men arrested
Nov 05, 2008 04:30 AM
The Mounties have intercepted a shipment of heroin from Pakistan that could have been worth more than $8 million on the streets of Toronto and Vancouver.
RCMP Supt. Ron Allen said yesterday the drugs were seized late last month after Canadian border service investigators in Halifax detected 81 boxes with heroin among a shipment of 430 cartons filled with striped towels headed for Toronto.
Allen said the nearly 28 kilograms of heroin could have been divided into 270,000 individual units or doses, each with a street value of $30.
In Halifax, the cartons containing heroin were removed and replaced with look-alike containers. The shipment continued by rail to Toronto, where it was delivered to a local business.
Four men – three from the GTA and one from British Columbia – were arrested as they made off with the boxes. Police later found a live hand grenade and ammunition at the Ajax home of one of the suspects.
The drugs were spotted when the overseas container was X-rayed in Halifax and what RCMP Sgt. Marc LaPorte called "anomalies" were spotted in dozens of boxes.
The drug shippers in Pakistan concealed slim Mylar packages of heroin in areas hollowed out between the corrugated layers of cardboard that form the sides of cartons.
"This might be simplistic in its nature, but without the technologies we have, we'd never see it," LaPorte said.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game. These people come up with different methods and we detect them. They evolve and we evolve to catch them."
Allen said that while Canada ranks low in the worldwide heroin trade – methamphetamine and cocaine are more highly sought here – Canadians use more than a tonne of heroin each year.
The significance of the seizure, while not among the country's largest, should not be underestimated, he said.
"We took many millions of dollars out of the hands of organized crime," Allen said.
"We have taken nearly 28 kilograms of heroin that won't be reaching the streets.
"There's a lot of crime that won't be happening because we got this seizure of heroin.
"Organized crime is driven by one thing only – money.
"And when we take these drugs out of circulation, we take money out of their hands."
Allen said the drugs' ultimate destination was not known. He said Toronto has become a crossroads for drug shipments headed to other parts of Canada and the United States.
The seized heroin likely originated in Afghanistan and was transported across the border to Pakistan, where it was readied for eventual shipment to North America, he said.
"Since 2006, all heroin we have seized is from southwest Asia," he said. "According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is controlling about 92 per cent of the world's heroin market."
Pakistan and India the main routes for heroin sent to Canada, Allen said.