Pubdate: Tue, 23 Sep 2014
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Dan Dakin
Page: A1


Former NRP investigator says cocaine flowing over border

For every shipment that gets caught, there are probably another 20
that get through." Joe Maggiolo, retired Niagara Regional Police staff

The local border between Canada and the U. S. is looked at by those in
drug trade as an express lane according to a former Niagara cop.

"Around the world we're becoming known as an easy place to get in,"
said Joe Maggiolo, a retired Niagara Regional Police staff sergeant
who spent much of his 37-year policing career investigating drugs and
organized crime. "For every shipment that gets caught, there are
probably another 20 that get through."

Maggiolo wasn't particularly surprised to learn about a drug sweep
early Monday morning that busted a criminal organization allegedly
importing cocaine from Mexico through the U.S. and into Canada. Three
of the 14 people arrested were from Niagara.

"Niagara has been a sleepy hollow for so many years. It was in our
backyard and people just didn't pay attention to it," said Maggiolo,
who retired in 2012 and is now running for a council seat in Niagara
Falls. Maggiolo was the lead investigator behind Project Ink, the
biggest drug bust ever in Niagara that ended a drug ring attempting to
smuggle 400 kilograms of cocaine a week into Canada. The importation
and distribution ring was said to be worth nearly $2 billion a year.

Police at the time of the Project Ink raids said it was a big enough
bust that it would change the street value of cocaine in Canada. But
Maggiolo said he expected someone else to step into the kingpin role.

Monday's bust was proof of that, he said. "This just tells you we're
just at the tip. People don't want to admit it's happening in their

Niagara's important role in the drug trade comes down to access,
Maggiolo said.

"It's a gateway," he said. "Niagara is surrounded by two lakes, we
have the river and three international bridges with tractor trailers
coming back and forth."

The former investigator believes cocaine is flowing south to north
while ecstacy and marijuana is sent from Canada to the U.S.

But NRP Staff Sgt. Shawn Clarkson, who took over after Maggiolo
retired, said the latest drug bust proves Niagara isn't the only point
of entry for drugs.

"This project uncovered information that yes, the border point in
Niagara does have ( drugs) coming through it, but it's also coming up
through Montreal," he said, adding that drugs are also often shipped
directly from Central and South America to Canada via the oceans.

"There were (suspects arrested) in Niagara, but the bulk of the
players, the main players, are in Peel region and in Toronto,"
Clarkson said.

Maggiolo said he thinks the cutbacks to police services are making the
jobs of drug investigators more difficult.

"The policing services are doing their best to tackle it, but you
always hear about the cuts, cuts cuts. We're getting there, but we're
losing the battle. It's because they've become more sophisticated ...
These guys have the best lawyers and the networks are so
professionally laid out that everything is systematic."

Maggiolo expects another group will step up once the dust settles from
the Project Roadmaster sweeps, similar to what happened after the
Project Ink investigation.

"Someone else's network will take that load and the cycle continues
over and over again," he said.
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