Nova Scotia RCMP say four people have been arrested in Halifax as part of an investigation into a “transnational criminal organization” that also led to an “extraordinary” cocaine bust in the United States last month.
A 63-year-old woman and three men ages 35, 32 and 30, all from Halifax, face multiple drug-related charges. Police also seized four kilograms of cocaine, approximately $170,000 in cash and $120,000 in silver bullion, electronic devices and six vehicles.
Nova Scotia RCMP announced the arrests and seizures at a news conference in Halifax on Tuesday, showing tables piled high with cocaine and marijuana, cash, silver bars and gold jewelry.
They also announced the conclusion of Operation Heinze, a 16-month investigation involving police from both sides of the border.
“The successful findings are part of a parallel investigation into a transnational criminal organization operating between the United States and Canada,” said Matthew Scarpino, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Buffalo, New York.
“This criminal network used established smuggling methods to transport and distribute substantial quantities of cocaine.”
The drug trafficking network at the center of the operation spanned several countries and had ties to Nova Scotia, Scarpino said.
“Through this investigation, we have significantly disrupted the daily operations of this criminal organization and have blocked a major channel of illicit narcotics into Canada and more specifically into the Halifax region,” he said.
16 month investigation
The investigation began in the spring of 2022, when the RCMP began trying to identify drug traffickers’ distribution networks in Nova Scotia.
They said they identified a criminal group involving a Hamilton, Ont., man who they believed was importing cocaine and other drugs from the United States into Canada. The drugs were then networked across Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
“By spring 2023, this investigation had led to the identification of an international criminal organization that facilitated the movement of imported cocaine from Ontario to eastern Canada, and which is considered to be in the upper echelon of drug trafficking networks. in the Atlantic region,” said Const. Chad Morrison of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
In May, Nova Scotia RCMP said they seized 40 kilograms of cocaine bound for Halifax during a traffic stop near Cobequid Pass. A 52-year-old man from Bedford, N.S., was released to appear in court at a later date.
In August, police said the Hamilton man was arrested in Buffalo with 433 kilograms of cocaine bound for Canada. They described him as a 37-year-old commercial truck driver with ties to the Nova Scotia drug trade.
Following his arrest, RCMP said Ontario officers conducted searches in the Hamilton and Niagara regions and discovered further evidence of drug trafficking and money laundering.
The Hamilton man remains in custody in the United States, RCMP said, but the other suspects have been released and will appear in court at a future date.