Toronto ring charged with exporting over 500 kg in drugs

    TORONTO, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - A six month joint law-enforcement investigation
into the exportation of more than 500 kilograms of methamphetamine (commonly
known as speed), ecstasy pills and cocaine from Canada to Australia has
resulted in the arrest of five Ontario individuals who are now facing multiple
drug and possession of property obtained by crime charges.
    This investigation, dubbed Project OSPA, is one of the largest
investigations to date where Canada has been identified as the source of
distribution. The investigation began in May 2008 when the Australia Federal
Police (AFP) intercepted a shipment of foot baths in which 27 kilograms of
methamphetamine and 27 kilograms of cocaine had been hidden. The RCMP and the
Australia Federal Police working in partnership, successfully intercepted
three additional shipments of foot baths and other beauty supply-related
products to Australia totaling over 200 kilograms of cocaine, 214 kilograms of
ecstasy pills and over 130 kilograms of methamphetamine. The Australian
Federal Police have arrested 14 individuals during the course of this
investigation in which four are Canadian citizens.
    The drugs were traced back to Canada where the RCMP and Canada Border
Services Agency worked jointly during the course of the investigation. The
Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police Service and the Ontario
Provincial Police also participated in this investigation which resulted in
the further seizures of an outdoor marijuana grow operation with about 1,000
plants was shut down near Sudbury Ontario. In partnership with the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),
125,000 pills of Ecstasy bound for U.S. markets were also seized. The US
authorities have charged one individual in connection with this investigation.
    On October 22nd, 2008, the RCMP GTA Drug Section executed 8 search
warrants which resulted in the seizure of cash, weapons as well as a marihuana
grow operation located in a residence. These investigations are still ongoing
and further charges are pending.
    These arrests and the dismantling of a sophisticated criminal exportation
network are a significant blow in eradicating Canada as a transnational
drug-trafficking hub. The criminal exportation network used many tactics to
avoid detection. For instance, it is alleged that various logistics companies
were created for the sole purpose of appearing to export legitimate products,
but with large amounts of drugs secreted inside. The network is also alleged
to have used public internet terminals to communicate with each other.
    "Our success in intelligence-led policing depends upon our willingness to
work in partnership with other law enforcement, security agencies and other
stakeholders across Canada and internationally," stated Detective Inspector
Rick Penney of the RCMP GTA Drug Section. "This investigation is an excellent
example of co-operation between various agencies to dismantle an international
criminal network. Organized crime hurts individuals in the communities we
serve. That is why detecting and deterring organized crime is one of the
RCMP's priorities."

    The acting officer in charge of the RCMP GTA Drug Section as well as a
representative from Canada Border Services Agency and the Australian Federal
Police will be available for interviews today (Thursday October 23rd, 2008) at
1 pm at the RCMP Toronto West Detachment located at 2755 Highpoint Drive,
Milton, Ontario. The names of the persons arrested in Canada will be made
available at this time.

For further information:

For further information: Sgt. Marc LaPorte, RCMP Media relations, "O"
Division, Office: (519) 640-7302, Cell: (416) 992-4409

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