Cablegate: Ontario Police Counternarcotics Efforts Paying Off

DE RUEHON #0155/01 1362007
R 152007Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ontario Police Counternarcotics Efforts Paying Off

REF: (A) Toronto 69 (B) Toronto 59 (C) 07 Toronto 448

Sensitive But Unclassified - Protect Accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Drug production, smuggling and trafficking
continues to be a major challenge for Ontario law enforcement
agencies. Since we last reported on counter-narcotics efforts in
Ontario in mid-March, police have discovered and shut down several
large-scale marijuana grow-ops and methamphetamine labs, seized
significant quantities of drugs, and arrested and charged scores of
people. The Akwesasne First Nations Reserve and Pearson
International Airport remain prime drug transit points. Experts
argue that increasing youth street gang activity and the
accompanying increased gun violence in Canada are symptoms of a
burgeoning drug trade in the country. Information-sharing and
operational cooperation between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement
agencies have been vital to several recent significant seizures on
both sides of the border. Should a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA) position be created in Toronto, the agent would find plenty of
work involving illegal cross-border drug flows. END SUMMARY.

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Ontario Provincial Police Publish 2007 Drug Report
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2. (U) On May 12, 2008, the Drug Enforcement Section (DES) of the
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced that in 2007 it seized
C$244.2 million in illicit drugs and arrested 2,246 individuals
across Ontario last year. In 2007, a total of 3,105 investigations
dismantled 551 indoor and outdoor marijuana grow operations, in
which 6,000 kilograms of dried marijuana were seized and more than
160,000 marijuana plants were destroyed. Over the past five years,
the OPP has charged 9,993 persons with 36,963 criminal offenses;
eliminated 3,550 marijuana grow-ops; destroyed 1,162,450 marijuana
plants; seized 412.3 kilos of cocaine; and seized 3,200 weapons.
The value of the drugs seized during this five-year period was C$1.6
billion. The value of the property seized was C$27.2 million.

3. (U) DES notes that it has seen more criminal activity during the
past five years involving new and synthetic drugs such as ecstasy,
GHB, crack cocaine, and prescription pills such as oxycodone. The
number of weapons, man traps and degree of violence associated with
outdoor marijuana grow operations in Ontario have also increased
significantly. The 3,200 weapons seized during drug investigations
over the last five years include machine guns, assault rifles,
detonator cords, and blasting caps.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Pearson Airport Continues to be a Drug Trafficking Hub
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (U) On April 26, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at
Toronto's Pearson Airport arrested a Quebec woman for transporting
12 kilos of cocaine worth C$1.5 million inside 24 boxes of cake mix
into Canada on a flight from Peru. The seizure was made public on
May 9 as part of an ongoing probe. Two seizures were also made on a
flight arriving in Toronto from St. Lucia on May 5. A 24-year-old
man from St. Lucia was charged after he was found with 4.5 kilos of
coke worth roughly C$560,000 and a 24-year-old woman and her
34-year-old boyfriend were held after 11.5 kilos of cocaine worth
C$1.4 million was discovered in their luggage.

--------------------------------------------- --
Marijuana Grow-ups Still Flourishing in Ontario
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (U) According to the U.N.'s 2007 Drug Report, 960 to 2,400 metric
tons of marijuana is produced annually in Canada, 25% of which is
produced in Ontario. Over the past couple of months, law
enforcement agencies in Ontario have shut down numerous large-scale
marijuana grow-ops.

6. (U) On April 21, 2008, police seized 3,000 marijuana plants and
almost seven kilograms of processed pot with an estimated street
value of over C$3 million. Two homemade swords, three vehicles,
digital scales, and a large quantity of hydroponic equipment were
also seized in the raid. Two Toronto men were charged with
marijuana production.

7. (U) On April 22, 2008, York Region police announced that they had
dismantled 18 marijuana grow operations linked to a company that
allegedly sold the equipment needed to grow pot indoors. Following
a two year investigation police seized 8,000 plants worth about C$8
million. Three people face a dozen charges, including production of
a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the
purpose of trafficking, and theft of electricity.

8. (U) On May 13, 2008, the OPP announced that they arrested 45
people and laid 173 charges in connection with an outdoor marijuana

TORONTO 00000155 002 OF 004

grow-operation near Minden, Ontario last fall. Officers seized more
than C$7 million in marijuana, about C$50,000 in cash, 2,000 ecstasy
pills, nine firearms, and camouflage outfits. The grow-op was
discovered after six people, two of whom worked for the Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), stumbled on the grow-op near
an ATV trail last October. The six people were beaten, robbed, and
held captive for hours by the suspects. Police said marijuana
plants were being stolen from the spot by another group of criminals
when the victims discovered the plants. The investigation, dubbed
"Project Pirate," also resulted in charges against several people in
connection with a violent carjacking last June on Highway 401 in
eastern Ontario. Police estimate there could be more than 300
illegal outdoor marijuana grow-ops right now in Ontario, some in
remote areas and others hidden in unsuspecting farmers' fields.

Recent Cocaine, Crack, and Marijuana Seizures

9. (U) On March 27, members of the Toronto Drug Squad and the
Emergency Task Force executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
warrant at D.J. Record and Clothing Store in downtown Toronto.
Police discovered roughly 65 pounds of marijuana worth C$600,000 and
a 9mm handgun. 15 people were charged with 32 drug and weapons
related charges.

10. (U) On March 29, 2008, Toronto Police seized 1,295 grams of
marijuana worth C$13,000, 139 grams of crack cocaine worth C$30,000,
and C$12,170 of cash along with numerous articles of drug
paraphernalia from a car parked in a residential neighborhood of
central Toronto. A Toronto man was arrested and charged with
drug-related offences.

11. (U) On April 10, 2008, Toronto Police and Toronto Anti-Violence
Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) officers seized approximately C$30,000
in cash and 108.8 grams of cocaine from a Barrie, Ontario man. The
man was charged with three drug-related offences.

12. (U) On April 17, 2008, a Windsor, Ontario man appeared in court
on drug trafficking charges after Windsor police raided a home and
seized 14 pounds of bagged marijuana, along with 241 grams of
cocaine, and 120 grams of hashish and hash oil worth C$91,629. The
man is now facing five counts of possession of drugs for the purpose
of trafficking. Windsor Police credited a recent boost in
provincial funding aimed at tackling drug and firearms crimes in
Ontario for a number of drug busts in the city. Police said the
number of drug busts so far this year is about the same as during
the same period last year, but more drugs are being seized.

13. (U) On April 29, 2008, an Ontario man was arrested in Michigan
after state troopers seized 63 kilograms of cocaine in three duffel
bags worth C$1.8 million from his tractor trailer. Four Americans
in a car trailing the tractor trailer were also taken into custody.

14. (U) On May 14, Toronto Police seized a large quantity of cocaine
and C$389,726 in cash. A Toronto man was charged with trafficking
cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking in cocaine, and
possession of proceeds of crime.

Akwesasne Reserve A Smuggling Hub

15. (U) The Akwesasne First Nations Reserve, which straddles the
provincial boundaries between Ontario and Quebec as well as the
international border between the U.S. and Canada, continues to be a
prime location for smuggling and drug trafficking. The reserve is
known as St. Regis Mohawk Reserve in New York. The 401 Trans-Canada
highway, conveniently located just outside the reserve, provides
direct routes west to Toronto and east to Montreal. The RCMP
estimates that roughly C$1 billion in drugs and contraband flow
through the reserve each year.

16. (U) On March 26, 2008, 29 people were arrested as police forces
staged drug raids on the Kahnawake, Kanesatake, and Akwesasne First
Nations Reserves, dismantling a multi-million dollar drug pipeline
linking Ontario, Quebec, and the U.S. More than 300 officers,
including the Kahnawake and Akwesasne Peace Keepers, worked with
RCMP and Surete du Quebec in the year-long investigation known as
"Operation Cancun." Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and U.S. Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers also assisted. In 15 raids police
forces netted 115 kilos of marijuana worth an estimated C$1 million,
bundles of cash totaling C$2 million, four machine guns, an AK-47,
an M-16, three grenade launchers, and other assorted weapons.
Police also seized 10 luxury vehicles, including high-end SUVs and
at least one sports car worth C$250,000. "The drugs were smuggled
by boat in the summer and by trucks and skidoo on ice bridges in the
winter," explained Sergeant Michael Harvey of the RCMP's customs and

TORONTO 00000155 003 OF 004

excise section. Of the 22 men and 7 women arrested, eight live in
Kahnawake, 10 in Akwesasne, one in the Kanesetake Mohawk reserve
near Montreal, and 10 in Montreal. They face charges of
gangsterism, drug exportation, illegal weapons possession, drug
possession, drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs,
conspiracy to export drugs, and drug manufacturing.

17. (U) On February 25, 2008, in Warren County, New York, state
troopers seized 10 pounds of marijuana in a duffel bag from four
Massachusetts men and also seized 126 pounds of marijuana worth a
combined C$500,000 from three Canadian women from Cornwall, Ontario,
in the largest seizure in the county's history. In both cases, the
people transporting the drugs reportedly brought them into the U.S.
through the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation.

Meth Super-lab Raided in GTA

18. (U) On April 29, Toronto Police uncovered the largest
methamphetamine lab ever found in the GTA in an industrial park in
Mississauga, Ontario. Inside the industrial units police found two
full methamphetamine cooking kitchens, 80 drums of volatile
chemicals, storage for a large amount of ecstasy pills, and four
pill presses. Four people were arrested -- three from Toronto and
one from Quebec. Toronto Police described the meth lab as a
sophisticated, organized criminal operation.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
U.S. - Canadian Law Enforcement Cooperation is Working
--------------------------------------------- ---------

19. (U) Information-sharing and operational cooperation between U.S.
and Canadian law enforcement agencies has been key to several recent
significant arrests and seizures on both sides of the border. For
example, on March 19, 2008, Toronto Police and the RCMP executed 12
search warrants at various GTA locations that resulted in the
seizure of 275 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of
over C$550,000. Charges were filed against four men from the GTA.
The operation, dubbed "Project Ocujo," was conducted with the
support of the U.S. DEA and targeted a GTA smuggling ring allegedly
involved in shipping Canadian marijuana south of the border. Police
also seized 17.6 pounds of ketamine, 3 vehicles, 130 cigarettes,
C$180,000 in cash, and a C$100,000 money order. Two people in the
U.S. were also charged.

Gangs, Guns and Drugs in Canada

20. (U) Michael Chettleburgh, author of "Young Thugs: Inside the
Dangerous World of Canadian Street Gangs," published in April 2007,
warns that more young people are joining gangs. He argues the
increasing gunplay on Canadian streets is a symptom of a burgeoning
drug trade. Chettleburgh drafted the 2002 Canadian Police Survey on
Youth Gangs for the federal government and will release the results
of a new survey later this year. "Where there are guns and gangs
there are drugs," Chettleburgh opined. "We've gone from seeing
fairly unsophisticated revolvers, to semi-automatic pistols to
hunting rifles sawed off, to machine guns and military-grade assault

21. (U) Toronto Deputy Police Chief Tony Warr said the propensity
for violence has spread from major drug dealers to minor drug
traffickers who now carry guns because they are afraid of getting
ripped off or shot by their competition. In 2006, 8,100 Canadian
residents were victims of violent gun crimes including robbery,
assault, and homicide, according to Statistics Canada. The number
of young people using guns in violent crimes has risen in three of
the previous four years, increasing 32% since 2002, also according
to Statistics Canada. Chettleburgh estimates there are 11,000 to
14,000 gang members under the age of 21 across the country, up from
7,000 in the 2002 Police Survey on Youth Gangs.

Oshawa, Ontario is a Major Drug Haven

22. (U) In recent months, Oshawa, Ontario, located on the eastern
fringe of the GTA, has been a hot-spot of drug-related activity. On
March 16, 2008, in Oshawa, Durham Regional Police (DRP) seized 24
grams of crack cocaine and 910 grams of cocaine worth C$90,000, and
arrested two Oshawa residents. Also, two days later, on March 18,
DRP seized roughly 2 kilograms of cocaine worth C$200,000 and four
people were charged with drug-related offences.

23. (U) On March 20, 2008, Oshawa Police recovered 1,797 grams of
psilocybin or magic mushrooms, 110 grams of marijuana, and 8 grams
of hash worth C$37,000 after stopping a vehicle on a downtown

TORONTO 00000155 004 OF 004

thoroughfare. Two men were charged.

24. (U) On March 20, 2008, DRP announced that a six week
street-level drug trafficking investigation in eastern Toronto
suburbs including Oshawa resulted in the seizure of C$40,000 in
drugs, and 63 arrests with about 200 charges laid, mostly related to
cocaine trafficking. The investigation, dubbed "Project Magnet,"
recovered roughly 71 grams of crack cocaine worth C$7,140, 151 grams
of cocaine worth C$15,110, 1,316 grams of marijuana worth C$13,162,
and 231 tablets of oxycodone worth C$4,620. A .45 caliber handgun,
3 boxes of ammunition, and C$6,800 in cash were also seized. 45 of
the 63 people charged were from Oshawa.

25. (U) On April 9, 2008 DRP discovered a major meth lab concealed
behind false walls and secret compartments in an Oshawa residence.
In the house police found caches of chemicals and lab equipment.
Police believe that the drug lab belonged to the previous owner of
the residence so no charges were laid against the current occupants.

Recent Major Drug Seizures and Operations

26. (U) On April 1, 2008, Toronto Police announced the successful
conclusion of a six-week project, dubbed "Project Revival," which
resulted in 75 arrests for drug trafficking and 21 arrests for
prostitution, resulting in 192 drug and criminal charges. These 96
arrested people had a previous combined total of 2,089 drug and
criminal convictions.

27. (U) On March 16, 2008, Toronto Police and local law enforcement
agencies concluded a six week long investigation, dubbed "Project
White Rabbit," by raiding the Comfort Zone, a downtown Toronto club.
In the six-week run-up to the club raid, Toronto Police made 13
drug-related arrests and seized C$6,000 worth of drugs. 33 people
were arrested and charged and police recovered heroin, cocaine,
ecstasy, ketamine, and GHB, worth C$30,000, along with C$35,000 cash
during the club raid. In a related arrest on April 6, 2008, another
Toronto man was charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of
cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, and possession of proceeds
of crime.

Cocaine heads North; Marijuana Heads South

28. (U) Large recent cocaine seizures in Ontario demonstrate that
the cross-border drug pipelines continue to operate. On March 29,
2008, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) guards at the Blue Water
Bridge in Sarnia, Ontario seized 46 kilograms of cocaine worth
C$5.75 million behind the rear seat of a car. A Kitchener, Ontario
man and women were charged with importing a controlled substance and
possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of

29. (U) On March 16, 2008, an Oshawa man was arrested for trying to
smuggle 272 pounds of marijuana worth C$1.6 million in his truck
when he entered the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo,
NY. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents said they
found the pot hidden in seven cardboard boxes in a load of airplane
parts and a large steel tank.

30. (SBU) COMMENT: Ontario-based law enforcement agencies continue
to work hard to combat illegal drug production and trafficking. The
volume and tempo of drug-related seizures and arrests in Ontario and
along the Canada-U.S. border demonstrate the continued profitability
of the drug trade and the determination of the criminals operating
it. Recent significant seizures on both sides of the border
highlight the importance of information sharing and operational
cooperation between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies,
which is helping to combat the flow of drugs, weapons, and
contraband across the border. The high volume of illegal
cross-border drug flow, in both directions, makes it clear that any
DEA agent stationed in Toronto would have a heavy and productive
workload, with much opportunity for increased cooperation with
Canadian law enforcement authorities here. END COMMENT.


© Scoop Media

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