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Winnipeg man arrested in months-long money laundering investigation: RCMP


Mounties allege a Winnipeg man trafficked drugs into remote First Nations communities and attempted to launder the 'significant' proceeds through casino games in the city.

The investigation dubbed Project Doom was launched a year ago when Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries contacted Manitoba RCMP about suspicious activity in Winnipeg casinos.

According to RCMP, the investigation determined an individual was supplying illicit drugs to remote First Nations communities, taking the money and laundering it through casino games.

Tara Seel, a media relations officer with the Manitoba RCMP, said the man was essentially bringing large amounts of cash into casinos, exchanging them for casino chips, and then cashing the chips out in an attempt to hide any connection to criminal activity.

While she couldn't say the exact amount believed to have been laundered, she said it was significant.

On Sept. 19, Mounties arrested 30-year-old Mohammad Riyadul Hoque of Winnipeg, charging him with trafficking fentanyl, trafficking cocaine, money laundering, and possession of proceeds of crime.

The following day, Hoque was released on a $50,000 bail along with several conditions including a strict curfew, and orders prohibiting him from attending any casino, racetrack or bar with VLTs.

Mounties say a search of the man's residence turned up cash and various drugs – resulting in the seizure of two vehicles, 498 grams of crack cocaine, 882 counterfeit OxyContin tablets (fentanyl), 241 Percocet tablets, 26 gabapentin tablets, and 348 unknown tablets.

Hoque is scheduled to appear in court on his trafficking charges next week. The charges against him have not been proven in court.


Mounties allege the drugs were being directed into remote First Nations communities including Red Sucker Lake, Garden Hill, Island Lake and St. Theresa Point, as well as North Spirit Lake in Ontario.

St. Theresa Point Chief Elvin Flett told CTV News his community is in the midst of a drug crisis.

"It's something that's gone out of control," he said.

Because St. Theresa Point is a fly-in community for most of the year, Flett said the main point of entry for the drugs is the local airport. But without the authority to conduct any searches at the airport, Flett says they are powerless to stop the flow of drugs.

"So as a result, it's free movement for alcohol even, and drugs to pass through the airport. And that essentially creates more problems at our community level – not just addictions, but social problems associated with people who are addicted and their family," Flett said.

READ MORE: Manitoba First Nation enforcing new measures to combat drug crisis

Earlier this year, following the death of two local teenagers, Flett put out a call for federal and provincial help to deal with drug trafficking in his community.

He says the arrest of one alleged drug trafficker is 'a drop in the bucket.'

However, Seel says every arrest does make a difference.

"Every drug off the street is potentially one life saved," Seel told CTV News, saying this investigation has short-circuited a drug supply chain.

"Every arrest, every pill, every little bit (of drugs) taken off the street is one instance of that not getting into someone's hands and one life potentially not being lost. That makes a difference, I honestly truly believe that makes a difference."

Seel urges Manitobans to report suspicious activity or suspected drug trafficking to police, as it may be an important piece of an investigation and help address the drug issues across the province. Top Stories

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