“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.
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.
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)