Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS RCMP Sgt. Francois-Olivier Myette, right, RCMP Superintendent Martine Fontaine and Stephane Bonin, director of criminal investigations for Canada Revenue Agency, left, explain the dismantling of an international money laundering network during a news conference Tuesday.

RCMP says dismantled network laundered tens of millions in drug money

MONTREAL — A sophisticated money laundering ring with international tentacles was behind hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions until it was dismantled this week, federal authorities said Tuesday.

The RCMP told a news conference its probe — dubbed “Collector” — uncovered a network with cells in Montreal and Toronto that collected and laundered money primarily from Montreal criminal groups.

“We believe with the amounts we saw being transited through the network we just dismantled, this network was occupying a primary place in the money laundering world in Montreal,” Sgt. Francois-Olivier Myette said.

Police did not look further into organized criminal groups that allegedly used the group’s services — there were at least six — but investigators have no doubt they played a big role in cleaning dirty money.

“These cells might have different links to different organized crime groups, but it wasn’t the main focus (of our investigation),” Myette said. “We were really focusing on the money laundering aspect of it, although it was necessary to find drugs to demonstrate the money was derived from sales of narcotics and proceeds of crime.”

Supt. Martine Fontaine said the network used connections in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the United States and China to launder money before returning it to drug-exporting countries, such as Colombia and Mexico.

She called the investigation one of the most important of its kind in Canada, noting it was one of the rare money laundering probes that has led to gangsterism charges. ”It is by depriving criminal groups of their money laundering networks that we will shake the very structure of organized crime,” she said.

On Monday more than 300 officers from the RCMP and other forces, aided by the Canada Revenue Agency, took part in raids in Ontario and Quebec. They seized drugs, cash and bank accounts and restrained real estate with a total estimated value of $32.8 million.

Myette explained the two-year investigation was triggered in 2016 by a tip from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. He said investigators observed hundreds of clandestine exchanges of bags filled with between $250,000 to $500,000. The money was often stuffed in bags or suitcases and transactions took place in parking lots and other locations.

Documents and other evidence suggests hundreds of millions of dollars were allegedly laundered through the group without ever leaving the country. The group used what is known as an informal value transfer system.

“So taking money in one jurisdiction and then retrieving money in another jurisdiction without actual transfers,” Myette explained. The network offered up a money transfer service to drug-exporting countries.

Seventeen people face charges including conspiracy, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, gangsterism and laundering proceeds of crime.

The network’s alleged leaders, Nader Gramian-Nik, 56, of Vaughan, Ont., and Mohamad Jaber, 51, of Laval, Que., were among those arrested. Three suspects were still being sought late Tuesday, but none are believed to be in Canada.

Just Posted

1,200 runners came out to Woody’s RV Marathon in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Matthew Hope ran in the Woody’s RV World Marathon for… Continue reading

Two men steal 16 year old’s car at gunpoint in Alberta

RCMP are looking for two men who allegedly produced a handgun and… Continue reading

Mother of five who died in hit and run in central Alberta a huge loss to family, police say

Rocky Mountain House RCMP continue to investigate hit and killed case on… Continue reading

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging… Continue reading

Speed, alcohol considered factors in deadly Calgary crash: police

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says two people are dead after… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of 2019

The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Speaker stuns Morehouse grads, to pay off $40M student debt

A billionaire technology investor stunned the entire graduating class at Morehouse College… Continue reading

Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the… Continue reading

Sisters of Ste-Anne hold unique garage sale before giving up Montreal convent

MONTREAL — The Montreal-area Sisters of Ste-Anne are hosting a unique garage… Continue reading

Canadian pilot Patrick Forseth killed in Honduras plane crash: sister

TRUJILLO, Honduras — A British Columbia woman says her pilot brother was… Continue reading

As states pass restrictive abortion laws, questions surface

ATLANTA — As multiple states pass laws banning many abortions, questions have… Continue reading

Pelosi being honoured with JFK Profile in Courage Award

BOSTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being honoured with the 2019… Continue reading

India’s marathon national election reaches the finish line

KOLKATA, India — Voting in India’s mammoth national election ended Sunday with… Continue reading

Most Read