HALIFAX – Six men from Nova Scotia have been charged following an international investigation into drug trafficking.
Nova Scotia RCMP said Thursday the ongoing investigation, which launched in July 2014, uncovered evidence of cocaine destined for various Canadian cities being shipped from Panama into the Port of Halifax.
Paul Matthew Arthur, 59, from East Pennant faces charges of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, attempting to import cocaine, trafficking of cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Arthur is a former crane operator at the Port of Halifax. In 2003, he was sentenced to 14 years in jail for his role in smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars of drugs into Canada.
He appeared in Halifax court on Thursday, and will be back in on Jan. 20.
The investigation, known as Operation Hancock, began after police received information that several people were planning to import 200 kilograms of cocaine into Halifax, and then distribute it throughout Canada. Police say officers were able to infiltrate the group, and fool the accused into thinking they were in possession of cocaine.
“They believed completely that the product that they had was cocaine,” said Glenn Lambe of the RCMP Federal and Serious Organized Crime Unit. “There was no actual cocaine imported. The individuals believed it was cocaine, they acted on that premise, they handled the product as if it was cocaine, but there was no cocaine, and no danger of any cocaine getting out to the general public.”
Both the Canadian Border Services Agency and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement assisted the Nova Scotia RCMP in the investigation.
The other men charged are 46-year-old Warren Patrick Clarke of West Pennant, 46-year-old John Carleton Dempsey of Halifax, 22-year-old Justin Carleton Dempsey of Mount Uniacke, 38-year-old Peter Stanley Albert Wood of Dartmouth and 51-year-old Steven Welsford Jollimore of Terrance Bay.
They were released on conditions and are scheduled to appear in court on March 26.
John Dempsey, Justin Dempsey, Clarke and Wood are charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, trafficking cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Jollimore is charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Police confirmed Clarke, John Dempsey and Justin Dempsey are employed at the Port of Halifax. John and Justin Dempsey are father and son.
Calvin Whidden, senior vice-president of Cerescorp at the Port of Halifax, confirmed three of the men charged are still employees, but said they are not currently working.
He said Cerescorp will co-operate with authorities and provide RCMP with access to all its files.
Police said further charges are anticipated.