Winnipeg police bust inter-provincial organized crime network in Ontario and Manitoba
Insp. Max Waddell with the Winnipeg Police Service speaks about an organized crime investigation between Winnipeg and southern Ontario on Nov. 5. 11 people have been charged with multiple offences.
WINNIPEG -- Eleven people from Winnipeg and southern Ontario are facing 56 charges following an investigation into alleged cocaine trafficking between Ontario and Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Police Service announced the details of the investigation, called Project Wonders, Thursday morning. The Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau assisted with the investigation, which started in January 2020.
“I can tell you it is linked to the highest levels of organized crime in our country,” said inspector Max Waddell with the Winnipeg Police Service.
Police said the group’s primary activities involved the transportation of multiple kilograms of cocaine from southern Ontario into Winnipeg. The group allegedly used courier mail systems to transport cocaine from southern Ontario to Winnipeg, using multiple names, addresses and couriers, and cash was shipped back to Ontario for payment.
Waddell said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals are changing how they transport drugs into communities.
“With borders tightening, and restrictions on travel, drug couriers have resorted to more elaborate means of transporting illicit drugs,” he said. “We’ve seen it covert hidden compartments in passenger vehicles, and now we are seeing the use of courier mail systems to move illicit drugs.”
Search warrants were executed on Oct. 21 on five residences in Winnipeg, and four residences in southern Ontario.
Police seized $300,000 in Canadian currency, along with four kilograms of cocaine with a wholesale value of $340,000. Officers also seized half a kilogram of fentanyl, with a wholesale value of $60,000, along with 500 grams of psilocybin and 10 grams of ketamine.
Weapons seized include two handguns, ammunition, and ballistic body armour.
Seven people from Winnipeg were arrested, including:
- Melissa Barrion, 28, who has been charged with multiple offences, including possession of a controlled substance, possession of proceeds of crime, and multiple weapons charges;
- Steven Griffith, 28, who has been charged with unlawful possession of cannabis;
- Jordan Nery, 33, who has been charged with uttering threats, assault, causing bodily harm, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a prohibited weapon;
- Julian Nery, 28, who has been charged with possession of cocaine and fentanyl;
- Chester Roulette, 25, who has been charged with three counts of possession of cocaine for trafficking, along with possession of prohibited ammunition and unauthorized possession of a prohibited device or ammunition;
- Brandon Sadiua, 28, who has been charged with multiple drug trafficking offences, including possession of cocaine, crack cocaine, and fentanyl, along with several firearms charges; and
- Nyke Thorpe, 40, who has been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
The four people from Ontario charged were:
- Allen Cheung, 34, of Markham, who has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence;
- Thanh Xuan Mai, 36, of Maple, who has been charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence;
- Hong Phong Nguyen, 34, of North York, who has been charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence;
- Trung Hieu Tran, 33, of Vaughn, who has been charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
None of the charges have been proven in court.