The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) recently announced that an ongoing, intercontinental investigation has officially concluded, resulting in the largest single drug seizure in OPP history. A massive amount of cocaine was seized over the course of the investigation, and a Brampton man has been charged as part of the drug ring.
The investigation netted a whopping 1,062 kilograms of pure cocaine.
As previously mentioned, this is officially the largest drug seizure in OPP history.
“The wholesale value of this seizure is estimated to be worth $60 million while the eventual street value, once cut, is approximately $250 million,” said the OPP in a statement.
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Earlier this summer, we reported that a Brampton man and a Vaughan man were charged with drug trafficking during a Highway 410 traffic stop, when the OPP and Peel Regional Police (PRP) seized 142 kilograms of cocaine from a vehicle.
Now, the OPP and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have identified links to caches of cocaine at a CBSA warehouse, at the Port of Montreal, and in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Three individuals were were identified and linked to cocaine transported on ocean-going vessels in shipping containers to the Port of Montreal for distribution in Ontario, say police.
The enormous quantities of cocaine were reportedly imported from Argentina.
The following three individuals have been charged, including the Brampton man and the Vaughan man that were stopped on the highway earlier this summer:
Mauricio Antonio Medina-Gatica, 36, of Brampton was charged on May 1, 2017 with importation of a controlled substance schedule 1 – cocaine and possession of a controlled schedule 1 substance – cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He has since been released on bail.
Luis Enrique Karim-Altamirano, 52, of Vaughan was charged on May 1, 2017 with importation of a controlled substance schedule 1 – cocaine, possession of a controlled schedule 1 substance – cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, and driving while disqualified. He remains in custody pending a bail hearing on August 30.
Iban Orozco-Lomeli, 45, of Toronto was charged most recently on July 10, 2017, with importation of a controlled substance schedule 1 – cocaine and possession of a controlled schedule 1 substance – cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He has since been released on bail.
As this was such a massive seizure, quite a few organizations contributed to the investigation over the course of the past few months. It’s been coined Project HOPE.
“The OPP recognize that illegal drugs cause grievous harm and threaten community safety. With the amount of pure cocaine seized during Project HOPE, we’ve stopped many criminals from causing more harm to our communities while removing a quarter of a billion dollars from the criminal economy,” said Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes.
The organizations involved in completing Project HOPE were the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) and Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau (POIB) in partnership with CBSA, Peel Regional Police, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).