RCMP have charged 15 people, including four Nova Scotians, after a two-year long international drug investigation that police say uncovered “ties to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels.”
In total, 45 charges have been laid. All but one of the accused face charges of conspiracy to import cocaine from several countries including Antigua, Brazil, the United States, Colombia and Guyana.
Chief Supt. Marlene Snowman, the officer in charge of criminal operations for the Nova Scotia RCMP, said hundreds of officers worked thousands of hours on the case.
“I can tell you, it’s not often a file of this magnitude and complexity occurs,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
The Nova Scotians charged are a 60-year-old man from Bedford, a 33-year-old man from Halifax, a 69-year-old Halifax man and a 54-year-old woman from Greenwood.
RCMP say a Department of National Defence employee and a Canadian Coast Guard employee are among the four Nova Scotians charged.
“The employee works in a junior position aboard a vessel in the Coast Guard fleet,” a spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard said in a statement. “The Canadian Coast Guard has been co-operating with the RCMP throughout the investigation.”
200 kg of cocaine seized
The other 11 accused are from Montreal, Toronto, and Maple, Vaughan and Richmond Hill in Ontario. They range in age from 28 to 64.
“Many of these players have played a substantial role in drug importations in Canada,” said Insp. Glenn Lambe with the federal and serious organized crime unit of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana said it was an extensive and complex investigation.
“Our evidence demonstrates that these individuals were planning to import multi-kilogram loads of cocaine into Canada, via the East Coast from South America, destined for the Canadian market,” he said.
Nine people have been arrested and six are still at large, RCMP said Tuesday.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Harrington, began in the spring of 2013. Officers say they uncovered eight conspiracies to import cocaine into Canada. The operation led to the seizure of vehicles, firearms, cash, drug paraphernalia and more than 200 kilograms of cocaine.
According to RCMP, there were also four investigations into cocaine trafficking and one investigation into firearms trafficking.
Cabana said there were clear ties to organized crime.
“Organized crime is a persistent threat that fuels a range of criminal activity and violence, which puts Canadians at risk,” he said.