Massive cocaine bust with two locals charged

Three Ontario residents have been charged following another intercontinental investigation that prevented 55 kilograms of near-pure cocaine from entering the criminal drug supply.

Project TATTLER began in December 2017 as an Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) project that assembled intelligence information linked to a mounting and inherent drug trend being observed. The investigation team gathered evidence of individuals from central Ontario smuggling cocaine from the United States (California) into Canada and then distributing it throughout central and western Ontario and in the Greater Toronto Area. The drug distribution network had an international nexus to the United States, with proceeds being dispersed throughout the complex organization in Ontario, as well as money linked flowing back to Mexico.  During the investigation, police seized 55 kilogram 'bricks' of cocaine (wholesale value $2.45-million; estimated potential minimum street value once cut of $5.5-million) and $800-thousand in Canadian currency. One pick-up truck, a tractor trailer, and three off-road vehicles, including two 'high-end' side-by-sides and a snowmobile - all worth a combined $260-thousand - have been restrained as Proceeds of Crime and offence-related property.

 

At a news conference in Barrie, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM and representatives from the project's partner agencies unveiled details of the investigation and displayed the evidence and cash assets seized. The investigation included participation from members of the OPP-led Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) and specialty support units, the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the United States - Department of Homeland Security Investigations (DHSI).

Three people are charged with 14 offences contrary to the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) and the Criminal Code of Canada (CC), as follows:                                     

Michael NAGTZAAM - aged 35 years, of Springwater Township, ON:

·      Importation of Schedule I Substance into Canada

·      Trafficking in a Schedule I Substance

·      Possession of Property or any Proceeds Obtained by Crime

·      Laundering Proceeds of Crime

·      Any Conspiracy, or Attempt to Commit an indictable offence 465 (1)(c) CC

·      Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.

 

Abrahan BRITO - aged 32 years, of New Tecumseth, ON:

·      Importation of a Sched I Substance into Canada

·      Trafficking in a Sched I Substance

·      Possession of Property or any Proceeds Obtained by Crime

·      Any Conspiracy, or Attempt to Commit an indictable offence 465 (1)(c) CC.

 

Slobodan POZNIC - aged 44 years, of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON:

·      Possession of a Schedule I Substance, Cocaine, for the purpose of trafficking 5(2) CDSA

·      Importation of a Schedule I Substance, Cocaine 6(1) CDSA

·      Possession of Property obtained by crime 354(1)(a) CC

·      Any Conspiracy, or Attempt to Commit an indictable offence 465 (1)(c) CC.

 

POZNIC appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor at an earlier date. NAGTZAAM and BRITO are expected to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener on April 12, 2019. The investigation continues.

QUOTES

"The OPP recognize that illegal drugs threaten community safety and inflict harm in our communities. With the amount of cocaine seized during Project TATTLER, we have again stopped criminals from causing more harm while removing potential profits from the criminal economy that fuel lavish criminal lifestyles. The Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau in collaboration with partner agencies will continue to aggressively pursue, disrupt and dismantle organizations involved in proliferating illegal commodities." - Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, Provincial Commander, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) partners closely with our Canadian counterparts to combat the Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) exploiting our shared border for their illicit activities. HSI and the OPP share a strong partnership and collaborate closely on investigations impacting our respective communities. The Project TATTLER investigation is a prime example of the partnership that allows law enforcement in both countries to successfully share information leading to the identification and dismantling of TCOs." - Michael E. BUCKLEY - United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations - Ottawa Attaché

"The CBSA is the first line of defence in preventing the smuggling of illegal contraband into Canada. The CBSA works day in and day out to ensure that our borders are secure and are not used for illegal activity. The results of this investigation demonstrate the effective collaboration between the CBSA and its law enforcement partners to prevent drugs from reaching our communities." - Rick COMERFORD, Regional Director General, Southern Ontario Region, Canada Border Services Agency