38.5 kg of cocaine seized, 12 people facing charges in Ontario drug smuggling probe

Police display some of the drugs that were seized by officers. RCMP

KITCHENER, Ont. – Police say a dozen people are facing charges in Ontario after a year-long international investigation into cocaine smuggling.

RCMP say the investigation began in the spring of 2016 and focused on the importation of cocaine into Canada from the U.S. on commercial trucks, allegedly organized by a group of people in Ontario’s Waterloo Region.

Police allege the accused were involved in the logistical side of the operation, arranging for the transportation of the cocaine through the U.S. and across the border into Canada by hiding it in loads of legitimate cargo.

Officers executed a total of 14 search warrants in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., area, Toronto and Leamington, Ont., seizing 38.5 kilograms of cocaine.

The Mounties say 12 people – from Toronto, Cambridge, Ont., and Thornhill, Ont., Kitchener, and Leamington – are charged with importing a controlled substance into Canada, and conspiring to import a controlled substance.

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The joint investigation involved the RCMP, Waterloo regional police, Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Melissa Ruiz, HSI’s Ottawa attache, called the seizure “thousands upon thousands of doses of a dangerous narcotic,” and “the cause of countless instances of crime, violence, victimization, overdoses, and suffering in both the United States and Canada.”

Waterloo regional police Supt. Pat Dietrich called the operation “an example of the importance of police agencies collaborating.”

“By working together, we have disrupted the drug trade and made a significant impact,” Dietrich said Friday in a release.

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