Cocaine-trafficking group with ties to a Mexican cartel busted: Toronto police

Cocaine-trafficking group with ties to a Mexican cartel busted: Toronto police

TORONTO — A sophisticated crime group that was allegedly smuggling bricks of pure cocaine across the U.S.-Canada border has been busted following a months-long investigation, Toronto police said Monday.

Drug squad Insp. Don Belanger said the force, with the assistance of Canada Border Services Agency, has seized 61 kilograms of pure cocaine and arrested four men, while Canada-wide arrest warrants have been issued for two others.

“It is rare to seize this quantity of cocaine in a single investigation,” Belanger said. “Once…diluted, dealers would have ultimately turned these 61 kilos of pure cocaine into a far greater quantity of lower grade cocaine mixed with any number of cheaper additives.”

Belanger said police launched the probe — dubbed Project Corredor — in the fall of 2019 when they received information that a group of men based in Toronto were smuggling cocaine across an unnamed land-border crossing.

Once in Ontario, the cocaine would be stashed in condominiums and houses then distributed to mid-level dealers who in turn would dish it out to street-level dealers, Belanger said.

“It is our belief that collectively this crime group has the capacity to make millions in profits off the sale of cocaine,” he said.

Beginning in January, drug squad investigators began raiding homes as they executed search warrants, Belanger said. They seized 61 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine — 20 bricks inside locked boxes in one condominium in North York, 36 bricks in another condo nearby, and five more at another house in a residential neighbourhood.

He said officers also seized C$210,000, US$14,000, and 30,000 euros along with four vehicles and a “significant quantity of luxury jewelry.”

“The amount of cocaine and cash seized in this investigation speaks to the level of sophistication of this group,” Belanger said.

“They are not street-level, or mid-level drug dealers, we allege they are highly organized and for a lack of a better term, professional cocaine distributors.”

Belanger said the force believes the group has links to a Mexican cartel.

“The extent of the link to a cartel continues to be a focus of the investigation,” Belanger told The Canadian Press.

Three Toronto men — English, 39, David Bergman, 48, and Ali Baek, 52, — face charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine and possession of proceeds of crime.

Ardeshir Omanian, 57, of Toronto, faces charges of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and possession of the proceeds of crime.

All four were released from custody, Belanger said, and are due in court in mid-June.

Toronto police say Andrew Wilson, 47, and Alan Jones-Smith, 30, both of Toronto, are wanted for drug-trafficking-related charges.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

cocaine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
O’Toole and Kenney sit side-by-side for livestream without wearing masks

NOBLEFORD, Alta. — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole praised Alberta Premier Jason Kenney… Continue reading

Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk out from a subway station in Beijing, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China’s economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength

China was the first major economy to return to growth

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Statistics Canada says wholesale sales edged up 0.3 per cent in August to advance for a fourth consecutive month, though at a much slower pace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo the Glass Fire burns a hillside above Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

RED DEER, Alta. — A family-run company providing air-tanker support to control… Continue reading

Safe Harbour Society recently moved its daytime warming centre and overnight mat program for homeless adults to the former Cannery Row Bingo. (Photo contributed)
Safe Harbour Society more ready than ever for winter shelter rush

Move to former Cannery Row Bingo building means more shelter spaces available than ever before

Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann (33) stops a shot from Vancouver Whitecaps’s Lucas Cavallini during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Koreniuk’s goal helps Galaxy beat Whitecaps, snap skid

Vancouver has lost five of its last seven games

In this file photo, Mike Weir, of Canada, hits out of the bunker on hole one during the 2017 Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey golf club, in Oakville, Ont., on Friday, July 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Weir settles for second as Mickelson wins to go 2 for 2 on senior tour

PGA Tour Champions’ stop at The Country Club of Virginia

In this April 12, 2019, file photo, Vasiliy Lomachenko celebrates defending his WBA/WBO lightweight titles after knocking out Anthony Crolla, in Los Angeles. Lomachenko fights Teofimo Lopez on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. Boxing fans should be thankful. They’re getting a quality fight _ and they’re getting it for free.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Lopez upsets Lomachenko to unify lightweight titles

LAS VEGAS — Teofimo Lopez dominated early and finished strong Saturday night… Continue reading

Patrons enjoy the patio at the Revival House restaurant in Stratford, Ont., Friday, Aug.10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Restaurants near virus hot spots weigh safety-vs-profit with locals-only dining

Some southern Ontario restaurants are making the tough financial choice to bar… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.  As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada's chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a "collective effort" to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

TORONTO — Canada’s chief public health officer is urging residents to continue… Continue reading

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Most Read