Massive investigation by Niagara Police breaks up major smuggling operation


gateway

Niagara Regional Police have released details of a major investigation dubbed "Project Gateway".

The investigation wrapped up a few weeks ago, and involved 12 search warrants, 175 police officers, and immigration officers.

In all 20 people are facing charges.

It is all connected to an alleged operation that included smuggling of drugs from Mexico to the US and into Canada.

The smuggling of people across the Niagara River into New York, along with shipping stolen vehicles overseas is also among the allegations.

Here is a list of the allegations stemming from the investigation:

Conspiring to smuggle cocaine from Mexico and Los Angeles into Canada by transport truck (via various ports of entry) and boat across the St. Clair River.

Operating cocaine extraction labs in rural properties located in South-Western Ontario designed to transform smuggled cocaine from an altered state (used to conceal the substance) to powder cocaine for resale.

Smuggling cannabis and cannabis derivatives from Canada to the United States and other countries internationally by transport truck and registered shipping services.

Smuggling large amounts of tobacco from the United States into Canada by transport truck.  Some of the smuggled tobacco was kept in Canada while some was smuggled overseas from Canada.

Smuggling people across the Niagara River into New York State by boat.

Possessing stolen vehicles and shipping them overseas.

Firearms possession.

Employing illegal foreign workers to work at cannabis production sites and to clean chain hotels.

Production of cannabis on a massive scale and smuggled into the United States using transport trucks.

Production of illegal cigarettes.

The street value of the drugs seized is over $60 million.

During the investigation officials seized a shipment of cannabis weighing 339.5 lbs that was destined for Europe. (estimated value of $1,356,000.00 CDN), 22 skids of undeclared tobacco with an approximate weight of 33,000 lbs. (estimated value of $230,000), 45,000 cannabis plants and over 20,000 lbs. of processed cannabis (estimated value of $62,792,000.00), and 80 Kilograms of cocaine (valued at approximately $3,200,000.00) was seized by authorities in Canada and the United States. 

The project wrapped up on September 14th when various agencies including raided a number of spots across the province.

Here is a list of the people arrested and the charges they are now facing.

69-year-old Ollie Mastronardi of Leamington, Ontario
Possession of Cannabis for the Purpose of Distribution - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act
Cultivate Cannabis from a Seed or Plant Material, knowing it was illicit - S. 12(4)(a) Cannabis Act
Cultivation of Cannabis Without Authorization - Cultivate not in a Dwelling House - S. 12(6)(a) Cannabis Act

43-year-old Mark Mastronardi of Leamington, Ontario
Possession of Cannabis for the Purpose of Distribution - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act
Cultivate Cannabis from a Seed or Plant Material, knowing it was illicit - S. 12(4)(a) Cannabis Act
Cultivation of Cannabis Without Authorization - Cultivate not in a Dwelling House - S. 12(6)(a) Cannabis Act

45-year-old Joseph Spano of Leamington, Ontario
Possession of Cannabis for the Purpose of Distribution - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act
Cultivate Cannabis from a Seed or Plant Material, knowing it was illicit - S. 12(4)(a) Cannabis Act
Cultivation of Cannabis Without Authorization - Cultivate not in a Dwelling House - S. 12(6)(a) Cannabis Act

59-year-old Daniel Fogazzi of Woodbridge, Ontario
Charged in the United States in relation to 78 kilograms of cocaine

66-year-old Itolo Mallozzi of Woodbridge, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Exportation of Cannabis - S. 11 Cannabis Act
Conspiracy to Export Cannabis - S. 11(1) Cannabis Act
Conspiracy to Smuggle Tobacco/Sell Tobacco - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Possession for Purposes of Distributing Cannabis resin - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act x 2 counts
False Statements - S. 153(a) Customs Act
Evade Compliance - S. 153(c) Customs Act
Evade Duties and Taxes - S. 153(c) Customs Act
Illegally Imported Goods - S. 155 Customs Act
Attempt to Smuggle - S. 159 Customs Act
Unlawful Possession or Sale of Tobacco Products - S. 32(1) Excise Act 2001

42-year-old Raghbir Shergill Singh of Milton, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

42-year-old Harpal Bhangoo of Brampton, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 2 counts
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 2 counts
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

53-year-old Jonjel Barbu of Hamilton, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC

35-year-old John Mercante of Binbrook, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC

60-year-old Davor Perhot of Niagara Falls, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 2 counts
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 2 counts
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Conspiracy to Export Cannabis - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 2 counts
Possession for the Purpose of Distributing (Cannabis) - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act
Possession of a Schedule I Substance (oxycodone) for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 5(2) CDSA
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

25-year-old Anthony Fogazzi of Woodbridge, Ontario
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1)CC
Conspiracy to Export Cannabis - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts

81-year-old Nereo Frank Fogazzi of Port Colborne, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1)CC

43-year-old Ibrahim Hamzic of Niagara Falls, Ontario
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Schedule 1 Substance (cocaine) - S. 5(2) CDSA
Possession of a Schedule I Substance (oxycodone) for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 5(2) CDSA x 2 counts
Possession of Proceeds of Crime over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

58-year-old Raytcho Kitchoukov of Etobicoke, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC x 7 counts (stolen vehicles)
Possession of a Schedule I Substance (cocaine) for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 5(2) CDSA
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

66-year-old Vincent Pileggi of Richmond Hill, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Firearm - Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession - S. 92(1)(b) CC
Possession of a Prohibited Firearm with Ammunition - S. 95(1)(b) CC
Firearm - Tampering with Serial Number - S. 108(1) CC
Careless Storage of a Firearm - 86(1) CC
Possession for the Purpose of Distributing (Cannabis) - S. 9(2) Cannabis Act
Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000 - S. 355(a) CC

50-year-old Antoine Balanian of Niagara Falls, Ontario
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine - S. 465(1)(c) CC
Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking - S. 465(1)(c) CC

28-year-old Fawzi Zaid of Windsor, Ontario
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Schedule I Substance (cocaine) - S. 5(2) CDSA

48-year-old Mel Rentaria  Castro of Surrey, British Columbia
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Schedule I Substance (cocaine) - S. 5(2) CDSA

24-year-old Mehakdeep Maan of Brampton, Ontario
Conspiracy to Export Cannabis - S. 465(1)(c) CC x 3 counts
Commission of an Offence for a Criminal Organization - S. 467.12(1) CC
Fail to Comply with a Recognizance - S. 145 CC

55-year-old Mario Nicastro of North York, Ontario
Conspiracy to Smuggle Tobacco/Sell Tobacco - S. 465(1)(c) CC