Winnipeg police, OPP raids on interprovincial organized crime network lead to major drug bust
Published Monday, December 23, 2019 9:50AM CST Last Updated Monday, December 23, 2019 5:19PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Ten people have been arrested after an investigation dubbed Project Highland was launched in April into what Winnipeg police called a sophisticated interprovincial organized crime network. It culminated with the simultaneous execution of eight raids last Wednesday in Winnipeg, rural Manitoba and Ontario.
Winnipeg Police Service Inspector Max Waddell said at a media conference Monday the primary activities of the organized crime group involved the transportation of multiple kilograms of cocaine, opioids and significant amounts of illegal cannabis and tobacco from southern Ontario into the city of Winnipeg.
As part of the investigation, police seized 13 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 million, 45 pounds of illegal cannabis with a street value of $190, 000 and 246 cases of cigarettes with a street value of $492, 884.
Waddell said the impact of the raids on the crime network will be far-reaching.
Winnipeg Police Service share a picture of some of the illegal cannabis seized during interprovincial raids as a part of Project Highland. (Source: Winnipeg Police Service)
Here is a list of the items that were seized during the raids:
- About $120,000 in cash
- 13 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 million
- 45 lbs of illegal cannabis with a street value of $190.680
- 21 bags of cannabis edibles - gummies with a street value of $1,050
246 cases of cigarettes
-2.46 million individual cigarettes
-lost tax value of $739,326
-potential triple tax penalty of over $2.2 million
-Street value of $492,884
- 824 alprazolam (xanax) bars with a street value of $4,120
- 362 grams of ecstasy (MDMA) with a street value of $14,480
- 370 grams of psilocybin (mushrooms) with a street value of $7,400
- 185 grams of benzocaine (cutting agent) with a street value of $1,320
- Three digital money counters
- Scales, score sheets, drug packaging material and vacuum sealing equipment
- Cannabis extraction press
- 17 mobile communication devices
- 400 rounds of 22 caliber ammunition
- 57 rounds of 726 caliber ammunition
- 2017 Jaguar FPACE R-Sport 35T with an approximate value of $50,000
- 2015 Lexus NX 200T with an approximate value of $30,000
- 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS with an approximate value of $10,000
- 2019 Ford F150 with an approximate value of $45,000
- 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 with hidden compartment, with an approximate value of $25,000
- 2007 Great 741 30 ft. enclosed trailer with an approximate value of $15,000 (Source: Winnipeg Police Service)
“This is reducing violent crime in the city of Winnipeg,” said Waddell. “I feel very confident that the drugs that we’ve removed here are going to be responsible for making sure people are safe in the city of Winnipeg."
Waddell said the cocaine seized came directly from Mexico and is some of the purest police in Winnipeg have encountered in the past 15 years. Southern Ontario was a drop-off point for the product before it was moved into Manitoba, he said.
Police said the illegal cannabis was being produced in southern Ontario.
Cash, several other illegal drugs, vehicles, and two homes were also seized.
About 160 officers from the Winnipeg Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police were involved in the raids. Manitoba Finance and Taxation were also involved.
The following people have been arrested and charged with a total of 34 criminal code offences related to conspiracy and trafficking of a controlled substance:
- Stephen Pierpoint, 32, of Aurora, Ont
- Curtis Hibbert, 34, of Winnipeg, Man
- Samantha Gunn, 25, of Winnipeg, Man.
- Darryan Edwards, 24, of Winnipeg, Man.
- Safa Allen, 37, of Winnipeg, Man.
- Laura Lippai, 37, of Winnipeg, Man.
- Jeremy Ritchot, 34, from the R.M. of Tache
- Rajvathanan Rajasekaran, 34, of Calgary, Alta.
- Sinthusan Shanmuganathan, 31, of Whitby, Ont.
- Vinothan Uthayakumar, 35, of Stouffville, Ont.