International drug smugglers busted in Ontario

Apr 30, 2019

Ontario Police have dismantled an international drug ring with connections to the United States and Mexico. The OPP seized a total of 55 kilograms of cocaine being smuggled in a transport truck from California, worth a street value of $5.5 million, according to Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum.

According to Barnum, the police arrested three people after the 15-month-long investigation. The investigation referred to as “Project Tattler” also resulted in the OPP seizing $800,000 in cash, a tractor trailer and three off-road vehicles, including two “high-end” side-by-sides and a snowmobile, and a pick-up truck, all worth a total of $260,000.

“The individuals involved in this effort were well organized, were very sophisticated and had devised a distribution network that spanned three countries. Profits from the illegal distribution and trafficking of drugs were dispersed throughout different regions of Ontario and a linkage regarding money flowing to Mexico was discovered so we can surmise that the drugs were originating from, and being secured from, Mexico.”

Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum at a Barrie press conference

The OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau had launched the investigation into the drug ring in December of 2017 after receiving information linking three individuals to the movement of significant amounts of Canadian dollars. Further investigation revealed evidence suggesting that the three individuals in question were implicated in the trafficking of illicit drugs into central and western Ontario, and the Greater Toronto Area.

The cocaine was discovered on February 19, by Canadian Border Services Agency officers as the transport truck attempted to enter Canada in Windsor, Ontario. The border service agents relied on information received from the OPP, and stopped the truck with some assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

According to CTV News, a drug-sniffing dog identified a built-in speaker inside the transport truck. Rick Comerford, a regional director with the Canadian border guards, said that the speaker contained a hidden compartment, which was carefully examined and opened using a variety of tools to reveal 55 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. “It was definitely a professionally modified compartment and not something that is normally found in a commercial motor vehicle,” he said. The OPP also said the cocaine was 90 to 96% pure.

The alleged driver of the truck, Slobodan Poznic, of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, was charged with importation of drugs, as well as a number of trafficking-related offences. In addition, police investigators charged two other individuals, Michael Nagtzaam of Springwater Township, Ontario, and Abrahan Brito, 32, of New Tecumseth, Ontario.