Kelowna residents arrested in darkweb fentanyl trafficking investigation
Police are calling it one of the most sophisticated drug organizations involving fentanyl and carfetanil in Canada and it has been shut down by the RCMP.
Dubbed “project E-Neophile”, Kelowna RCMP have arrested two people.
Police say the accused are a 35-year-old Kelowna man and a 28 year-old Kelowna woman.
Global Okanagan has learned their identities.
James Nelson and his spouse Cassie Bonthoux were arrested in connection with the investigation, but there has not been a decision whether charges are warranted. They’re not in custody but have a court date scheduled for December.
They own a street/urban clothing store on Pandosy Street in Kelowna called Duke and Duchess Apparel. The store was raided on August 10. It was shut down after the raid but has since reopened. Police also raided their home in the Black Mountain area. The City of Kelowna posted a ‘do not occupy or enter’ poster on the door of the home because it had been used as a controlled substance operation.
Police say the pair were allegedly using the dark-web — a layer of the internet where criminals have been known to sell their wares.
“The drugs were then trafficked utilizing the dark-web throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia,” Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey said.
The investigation began in September 2016 when police allege the two suspects were mailing packages across North America.
Police say the alleged criminal activity went silent up until July 2017 when police allege the suspects created a new account on the dark-web and resumed selling drugs.
Several police enforcement agencies became involved in the investigation including Calgary Police and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Police allege the suspects were selling fentanyl and carfentanil from a business they own in downtown Kelowna and from their home.
“It was as many as 25 packages that were seized by our investigators and they were allegedly destined for Canadian addresses, as well as internationally through the United States, Europe and Australia. Two unsecured firearms were also seized during the execution of those search warrants along with $68,000 in Bitcoin,” O’Donaghey said.
Police say the arrest will put a significant dent in the selling of fentanyl and carfentanil.
“This may be one of the most significant and perhaps the most sophisticated fentanyl/carfetanil trafficking and exportation enterprises that has been uncovered in Canada to date,” Sgt,. Alex Lynch of the Kelowna RCMP Street Enforcement Unit said.
RCMP say the bust may have saved lives.
“It’s likely prevented many deaths,” Cpl. O’Donaghey said.
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