Nearly two dozen arrested as OPP dismantle 2 GTA groups accused of importing cocaine into Canada

Cocaine seized as part of an investigation into two groups allegedly importing the drug into Canada is shown. (Ontario Provincial Police)

Ontario Provincial Police have arrested 22 people and seized millions of dollars in drugs following a months-long investigation into two GTA-based groups that were allegedly importing cocaine into Canada.

Detective Inspector Jim Walker told reporters at a Thursday morning news conference that the OPP began looking into the groups in March, 2020 and quickly collaborated with York Regional Police after discovering that there was overlap with an active investigation already underway in that jurisdiction.

He said that the groups operated separately and their linkage for the purpose of the investigation “was based solely on common members” between them.

Walker said that one of the groups was responsible for the importation and trafficking of cocaine from Colombia. He said that they would conceal the drugs in textiles for shipment to Canada and would then use a clandestine lab to process it into “a sellable state.”

The other group, he said, conspired to import cocaine from the Caribbean and was also involved in the exportation of illegal cannabis from Canada into the United States.

“We want to be clear about the objectives of these organized crime groups. They participate in these illegal activities jeopardizing the safety of our communities for the purpose of generating significant financial gains,” Walker said. “They launder the proceed of their illegal activities to benefit from a lifestyle that they could otherwise not afford. One member of this organized crime group collaborated to direct their drug trafficking proceeds towards the purchase of a $1.5 million house in the GTA. While have our law-abiding citizens working hard each day to earn an honest living these organized crime groups show no regard for the law and benefit financially from this.”

The arrest of the 22 individuals accused of participating in the importation and trafficking of the cocaine mostly occurred on July 7 when police executed 44 search warrants at locations across the GTA.

Walker said that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) also helped with the seizure of 86 kilograms of cocaine attempting to be imported on aircrafts from the Caribbean.

In total, the investigation resulted in the seizure of 92 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of methamphetamine, 249 kilograms of illicit cannabis, 1.3 kilograms of psilocybin, 255 grams of MDMA, 980 oxycodone pills and 255 grams of ketamine.

The estimated street value of those drugs is believed to be about $10 million.

Investigators also seized seven vehicles as offence-related property, a handgun, nearly $400,000 in cash and a cryptocurrency wallet containing cryptocurrency.

The suspects are facing a combined 139 charges.

Walker said that some of those charges relate to other illegal activity, including fraudulent phishing and mortgage fraud crimes.

One individual, 47-year-old Sukhjit Dhaliwal, remains outstanding and there is a warrant out for his arrest.

“We would like all those involved in organized crime and drug trafficking to know that if you are bringing these commodities into our communities we will investigate you, we will find you and we will prosecute you,” Walker said.