‘Sophisticated operation’ behind opium importing

By Terrapinzflyer · Sep 18, 2009 · ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    ‘Sophisticated operation’ behind opium importing

    The seizure of an opium shipment destined for Port Moody will have a “significant impact” on opium distribution in the Lower Mainland and across the country, police say.

    Port Moody Police Const. Bill Kim said the bust was the largest seizure in the city’s history.

    On Aug. 27, the PMPD was informed by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) that a bulk quantity of opium was being shipped to a PoMo address from Istanbul, Turkey.

    PMPD investigators from the major crime section, together with other municipal and federal agencies, initiated an extensive integrated operation that led to a PoMo man’s arrest on Saturday, Sept. 5. Officers seized about 11.5 pounds (5.3 kg) of opium, which carries a street value of approximately $500,000.

    Kim couldn’t say how many people that amount of drugs could potentially be distributed to but noted that CBSA figures show that opium has suddenly become a much more popular drug in Canada.

    “In the Pacific region in 2008, there were 133 kg [293 pounds] of opium seized, compared to 10 kg [22 pounds] in 2007,” he said, which means the recent seizure represents about 5% of last year’s take. “So that is quite significant.”

    Kim would not reveal how the drugs were shipped from Turkey, only saying that it was a “sophisticated operation” and the drugs were likely intended for distribution in Greater Vancouver.

    Azad Yousefi, 35, was arrested in Burnaby without incident and is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawfully importing a controlled substance.

    By Sarah Payne - The Tri-City News
    Published: September 17, 2009 2:00 PM
    Updated: September 17, 2009 2:35 PM


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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Record amount of opium sent in the mail from Turkey

    METRO VANCOUVER - Port Moody Police have broken up an international drug ring after seizing a record amount of opium secreted in a large suitcase sent from Turkey.

    So far, one man is facing charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawfully importing a controlled substance after being arrested in Burnaby Sept. 5

    Thirty-year-old Port Moody resident Azad Yousefi was not known to police until he was linked to the opium that clandestinely entered Canada through the mail Aug. 27.

    Port Moody Police Insp. Andy Richards said Thursday more charges are expected.

    “He was not arrested alone. We anticipate the possibility of more charges both locally and potentially even internationally,” Richards said. “Obviously the size of the seizure and the level of sophistication speak to being part of an organized group or entity of some kind.”

    Richards said several agencies aided Port Moody with the investigation, including the Canada Border Services Agency, which originally discovered the opium, New Westminster Police, the RCMP and Vancouver Police

    It began when the package arrived at a mail centre in Montreal, destined for Port Moody.

    CBSA found 5.267 kilos of “a brown organic matter was hidden in the lining of a suitcase,” CBSA official Mike Hryciuk said.

    The declaration tag said the package contained “personal effects” only.

    CBSA contacted B.C. law enforcement agencies and the Port Moody police took the lead.

    “It is an excellent example of inter-provincial and inter-agency cooperation,” Hryciuk said.

    While investigators wouldn’t release many details about their probe since the case is now before the courts, it appears they allowed the package to reach its destination so they could track the suspects.

    Richards said up to 35 officers worked intensively over a 10-day period leading up to the arrests.

    “It is a very compelling case,” Richards said.

    “As you can appreciate (the opium) was very professionally secreted within the suitcase so somebody solely possessing that suitcase - without further evidence - it would be a legal stretch to lay a charge based solely on that. So I am suggesting that we have a lot more compelling evidence that led to the charge.”

    The opium is believed to be worth about $500,000 at the street level.

    Police say opium is not one of the more common drugs they encounter, but the CBSA is seeing more and more opium coming into the country.

    Hryciuk said seizures of opium were up to 132 kilos in 2008 from just 10 kilos in 2007, in the Pacific region alone. He said part of the increase could be attributed to improved technology for searches and better intelligence about how it is hidden.

    The most recent shipment was wrapped in carbon paper to disguise it from the X-ray machine, Hryciuk said.

    Solicitor-General Kash Heed praised the efforts that led to the seizure and charges.

    “It is an impressive accomplishment and testament to the effectiveness of collaboration between agencies to target crime and the drug economy,” Heed said.


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