Canadian police seizes cocaine shipment from Guyana

A rare seizure of a large quantity of what is believed to be cocaine at the Port of Valleyfield has landed a man from the Philippines and another from Scarborough behind bars following an investigation by the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency.

“It is a major seizure. Eighty-one kilos of cocaine, it’s not just any organization that can put together an operation like that. I can say that the volume of ships that arrive in Valleyfield is much less than what we see at Montreal, Halifax or Vancouver. This is one of the biggest seizures ever made in Valleyfield,” CBSA Deputy Director Alain Surprenant said on Tuesday during a press conference at the RCMP’s detachment in Valleyfield.

 On average, the Port of Valleyfield, located on the western tip of the city by the same name 70 kilometres west of Montreal, sees 115 vessels dock there per year. By comparison, the Port of Montreal docked nearly 2,400 vessels last year. The Port in Valleyfield specializes in handling raw materials from mining communities in northern Canada but also docks ships from Russia, Spain and Germany.

The cocaine seized on Saturday was found on a vessel from Georgetown, Guyana that was transporting bauxite, the chief ore in aluminum. Surprenant said locating the cocaine required a long and meticulous search.

“After an initial search of the vessel, signs led us to concentrate on the front of the boat. And after a vigorous search, the cocaine was found concealed in bags in the hold of the vessel,” he said adding the bags were hidden in a part of the ship that was difficult to access and that firefighters from the local fire department were called in to help.

RCMP Corp. Genevieve Byrne said a sample of what was seized will be sent to Health Canada to determine if it is indeed cocaine. She also said investigators believe the shipment was destined for Toronto and Vancouver.

Four people were arrested but only two have been charged so far. Roldan De Gorio Tito, 36, of Tiaong, a city in the Philippines, and Nazir Ahmad Hussain, 48, of Scarborough, Ont., appeared before a judge at the Valleyfield courthouse on Monday where they were charged with conspiracy to import drugs for the purpose of trafficking. They are detained and their case is scheduled to return to court next week.

 One charge alleges they conspired with “a person known as ‘Rose’ and with other unknown persons” to smuggle cocaine into Canada. The charges they face indicate the ship entered Canadian waters on Sept. 2.

Byrne said the other two people arrested were released due to a lack of evidence concerning their possible involvement in what was seized on Saturday.

“The investigation is still underway and we are trying to verify if there are any links to known criminal organizations,” she said.

The Port in Valleyfield is independent of others in Canada and is managed by the city of Valleyfield. Surprenant said that while the port is autonomous, that does not prevent CBSA from acting on information the agency receives about vessels arriving from foreign countries.

“All methods of transport and all merchandise that arrives in Canada is the subject of risk analysis based on information from partners. What we do is determine which merchandise or individuals are at risk and we organize a search,” he said. (Montrealgazette)


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