23 WITH ROOTS IN PUNJAB AMONG 33 CHARGED FOR DRUG TRAFFICING IN CANADA
IND-CANADIANS WERE PART OF TRANSNATIONAL DRUG TRAFFICKING
In a major operation, Canadian law enforcement has arrested and charged over two dozen persons, mostly Indo-Canadians with roots in Punjab, with participating in transnational drug trafficking activities. www.hindustantimes had reported.
The drugs were being illegally brought into the country from the US – primarily from California – and also from India, India’s national English daily had reported, some weeks ago.
York Regional Police (YRP), which led the investigation and the subsequent crackdown, said multiple agencies worked on the operation that “dismantled a large-scale international drug trafficking network that extended to western Canada, the United States and India”.
Other law enforcement agencies that were part of the operation were from Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Peel Regional Police, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The investigation, named Project Cheetah, began in May last year and penetrated “a robust network” involved in importing large quantities of banned drugs into Canada. “The drugs were then distributed across the country through a sophisticated system run by the traffickers,” YRP said.
On April 8, police in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia as well as in California executed over 50 search warrants, resulting in 33 people being charged with over 130 offences.
Among them, 27 were arrested and charged in the Greater Toronto Area, with 19 of them hailing from the town of Brampton. Of these, 23 are of Punjabi origin. One suspect, Gurbinder Sooch, remains at large.
In a video statement, inspector Ryan Hogan of the Organised Crime Enforcement Bureau of YRP, said Project Cheetah was a “transnational investigation into the importation and distribution of cocaine, heroin, opium and ketamine into Canada both from India and from California”.
The charges include drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs and possession of proceeds from criminal activities.
During the course of the operation, officers seized about 2.3 million Canadian dollars (US$1.84 million) worth of drugs that included 10kg of cocaine, 8kg of ketamine, 3kg of heroin and 2.5kg of opium. Investigators also seized 48 firearms and 730,000 Canadian dollars (US$582,882) in cash.
“This drug trafficking network was active throughout the Greater Toronto Area and negatively impacted our communities,” said superintendent Dermot Coughlan of Peel Regional Police’s intelligence operations.
Inspector Marwan Zogheib, officer in charge of RCMP’s Toronto West Detachment, said, “RCMP’s resources across Canada and overseas and our partnership with YRP provide a multiplier effect to our collective efforts to dismantle such criminal networks.” The Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario also supported this joint-forces investigation.