Pubdate: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Page: B7
Author: Bob Mitchell, Peel/Halton Bureau Chief


Drug Ring Broken In U.S.-Canadian Effort, Police Say

A Toronto-based drug importation ring has been dismantled, according to the
RCMP, following the seizure of $40 million worth of cocaine in a high-risk
undercover takedown at a Mississauga doughnut shop.

Four members of what police say was a major organized drug operation with
South American cartel ties were arrested Wednesday by members of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police's emergency tactical response team.

They face numerous charges in connection with the importation of 235
kilograms of high-grade cocaine destined for the streets of Greater

"At the wholesale price of $40,000 per kilo, we have $10 million worth of
cocaine seized in this controlled shipment," said Inspector Ron Allen of
the RCMP's Toronto West drug unit. "But when it's cut for street use at the
gram level, you're looking at $40 million worth of drugs that was destined
for the Toronto market.

"We believe this organization was quite capable of importing hundreds of
kilos of cocaine into Canada. None of it was going back into the U.S.

"They were major players. We're not talking guys who body-pack a kilogram
of cocaine in body packs at Pearson. This criminal organization had ties to
a South American cocaine cartel."

The seven-month undercover operation, dubbed Project Opio, involved agents
of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - who infiltrated the
organization and informed the RCMP about it last August - as well the RCMP
drug team, the U.S. Customs Service and the Toronto Integrated Proceeds of
Crime unit.

The arrested men were Canadian citizens born in Ecuador, Iran, Colombia and
Jamaica, police said.

Allen said two of the alleged importers were arrested during a "controlled
delivery" of about 100 kilos of cocaine atround 8 p.m. Wednesday in a
doughnut shop parking lot in the area of Highway 401 and Dixie Rd.

An Iranian-born man, allegedly head of the organization, was arrested at
dinner with a DEA undercover agent in a downtown Toronto restaurant.

A fourth man, already serving eight years in a federal prison for a drug
conviction, was arrested and charged in connection with the organization.

Under the controlled delivery, two undercover DEA officers working with the
RCMP allowed the cocaine to be shipped to Canada through Pearson airport

Allen said the drugs were then driven to the Mississauga doughnut shop,
where the initial transfer was to take place later that night. More than 40
officers, including members of the Peel and Toronto police, were on hand
for the seizure.

About $80,000 (U.S.) was seized during Wednesday night's arrests, Allen
said. A further $200,000 (U.S.) was seized earlier during the investigation
in New York City.

Charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance, conspiracy to
traffic in a controlled substance and importing a controlled substance were
Javad Akbari-Balderlou, 30, of Jarvis St., Toronto; Guillermo Jaramillo,
53, of Hurontario St., Mississauga; Felix Redwood, 50, of Paradelle Cres.,
Toronto; and Morvil Manners, 35, of Yonge St., Toronto.
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