29/09/2020

A major OPP bust targeting “key facilitators” in the drug trafficking trade has put a “significant” dent in the flow of illicit drugs through Eastern Ontario, according to p…

A major OPP bust targeting “key facilitators” in the drug trafficking trade has put a “significant” dent in the flow of illicit drugs through Eastern Ontario, according to police brass who staged a news conference Thursday to display the harvest of seized contraband.
Police executed search warrants across the province and arrested and charged 12 people in recent raids in Ottawa, Gatineau, Carleton Place, Smiths Falls, Perth, Burlington and Stoney Creek.
But senior Ontario Provincial Police officers acknowledged Thursday they have seen little impact in the flow of cannabis to the black market in Ontario, at least on the enforcement side, in the 15 months since legalization.
“That’s an awful lot of cannabis sitting there today,” said Det. Insp. Peter Donnelly, major case manager with the OPP’s organized crime enforcement bureau, pointing to an evidence table loaded with bags of packaged weed amid the samples of seized contraband.
Police boasted a haul amounting to 8.5 kilograms of cocaine, much of it high-grade and yet to be cut into street-level portions, nine kilograms of methamphetamine, four kilograms of ecstasy, more than 100 pounds of cannabis, and 8.5 kilograms of cannabis resin and concentrates.
Ontario Provincial Police unveiled details of the investigation and a display of the evidence seized during operation DAYTONA in Ottawa Thursday Jan 30, 2020.Tony Caldwell /
Postmedia
Twelve people were arrested with police laying a total of 81 charges.
Donnelly answered a flat “No” when asked if police had seen any reduction in quantities of black market weed.
“It’s still a significant factor in our investigations, we still see it being moved continually by illegal groups … They’re operating in that grey area between legality and illegality.”
Police said this complex nine-month investigation, dubbed Project Daytona, is different from other recent high-level drug busts in the province. Instead of targeting street-level dealers, or working their way up the hierarchy of easily-identifiable street gangs or biker gangs, the “intelligence-based” operation yielded arrests of suspects who, according to police, were supplying many of those groups with drugs.
Ontario Provincial Police unveiled details of the investigation and a display of the evidence seized during operation DAYTONA in Ottawa Thursday Jan 30, 2020.Tony Caldwell /
Postmedia
Donnelly said along with the quantity of drugs seized, the quality of the cocaine in particular was so pure the 8.5 kilograms police seized could have changed hands several times, and been cut into as much as 20 kilograms by the time it hit the street.
The street value of the haul was “alarming,” he said.
The impact of the operation is “hard to measure,” said Supt. Bryan MacKillop, director of the OPP’s organized crime enforcement bureau. “Because when we talk about community impact, you tend to think of the readily identifiable street gang colours or the (biker gang) patches. But who’s more impactful — the (gang member) going around using intimidation and extortion, the street-level dealers, or the ones that are supplying them all with the drugs?
“We tend to go after the individuals who have the largest amount of harm in the community, or who feed that perception of fear in the community. In this case we’re trying to strike directly at them by taking away their supply of drugs and crippling them. And if they aren’t able to sell the drugs and reap the financial benefits of the drug trade, it certainly destabilizes them.”
MacKillop said traffickers all the way down the chain in multiple networks would feel the pinch.
“They still have to get their stuff, so they have to change their habits, which makes them more vulnerable and makes for easier investigations for us … By arresting these individuals we’re destabilizing entire networks and destabilizing the entire market. These are key facilitators that are working behind the scenes, on the periphery. They’re not the high-profile names or (affiliations) people are used to hearing. ”
The investigation — some of the targets are “high-fliers” while others flew under the radar — represented a “paradigm shift,” MacKillop said, from a bottom-up investigation to a top-level targeting of suspects with a “very strategic and surgical approach.”
“They may not be part of the groups we traditionally target, the identifiable mafia-style or street gang-style arrests, where someone else always comes along to fill in that void, and they tend to persist. These are the ones that always remain standing because they always have somebody available to sell the drugs to.”
Ahelmer@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/helmera
ALSO IN THE NEWS
Councillors wont sweep aside Trillium Line bid controversy without answers
Defacement of Algonquin College Indigenous art probed as potential hate crime
World Health Organization declares global health emergency