Pubdate: Fri, 13 Apr 2012
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2012 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Paul Cherry
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Four Men Arrested, Mafia Link Suspected

ST. ZOTIQUE - Three men are expected to appear in court Friday, while 
another remains hospitalized in critical condition, after being shot 
by police targeting a marijuana grow-op allegedly tied to the Mafia.

The 63-year-old man was shot early Thursday by a member of a Surete 
du Quebec's SWAT team that raided an apartment on Principale St. in 
St. Zotique. The apartment is part of a building that also houses a 
motel on the shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Quebec City police have been assigned to investigate the shooting as 
per provincial legislation that prohibits a police force from probing 
incidents where people have been killed or injured during one of 
their operations.

The injured man was taken to a hospital where he is in critical but 
stable condition, said Quebec City police Constable Marie-eve 
Painchaud. She would not comment on whether there was an exchange of 
gun fire between the 63-year-old drug trafficking suspect and the SWAT team.

"I heard nothing and I saw nothing. I slept like a baby," said Anne 
Poirier, who stayed at the motel overnight while on her way to New York.

The owner of the motel said the apartment where the 63-year-old was 
shot is not part of her business despite being part of the same 
building. She said she only knew the man by his first name.

According to police sources, the 63-year-old has a criminal record 
and was already facing a criminal charge, at the Valleyfield 
courthouse, alleging he produced an illegal substance in 2009. He has 
a court date for that case in May. In 2006, he was sentenced to a 
two-year prison term, also for producing an illegal substance.

According to court records, the man has resided in the same modest 
apartment since 1991. Montreal police Constable Daniel Lacoursiere 
said the police seized $660,000 from two safety deposit boxes linked 
to the same man during Thursday's police operation.

Montreal police Constable Anthony Cantelmi said the marijuana 
grow-operation is believed to be tied to "Italian organized crime" 
and that three of the four people arrested Thursday are known to the 
police. Cantelmi said the investigation into the grow-op was headed 
by the Montreal police organized crime division, and that the SQ, 
RCMP and Laval police were assisting in the arrests and search 
warrants carried out on Thursday. One of the suspects was arrested at 
Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport just as he was preparing 
to head off on a vacation.

Six homes in the Montreal area and two warehouses on Des Industries 
Ave. in Laval were targeted in the raid, including one that was 
allegedly used for the grow operation. Cantelmi said five vehicles 
also were searched. He said 14 raids in all were carried out 
simultaneously at 6 a.m.

"These raids are related to people operating a marijuana grow-op," 
Cantelmi said, adding between 5,000 and 10,000 marijuana plants were 
seized along with 30 kilograms of marijuana and $730,000 in cash, 
including the amount seized from the safety deposit boxes. Cantelmi 
said the people arrested will be charged with producing marijuana and 
possession of the same with intent to traffic.
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