N.S. police and Homeland Security in U.S. show off ‘extraordinary’ cocaine bust

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N.S. police and Homeland Security in U.S. show off ‘extraordinary’ cocaine bust
WATCH: Authorities say they’ve made a significant disruption to the drug trade in Atlantic Canada. The extensive operation spanned both sides of the U.S.-Canada border and has resulted in charges being filed against several Nova Scotians. Callum Smith has more. – Sep 26, 2023

Police in Nova Scotia say they’ve disrupted “one of the more sophisticated drug trafficking networks within Atlantic Canada” and contributed to the largest cocaine bust ever seen in western New York state.

During a news conference Tuesday, officials revealed items seized as part of a 16-month investigation led by Nova Scotia RCMP’s Federal Policing section, dubbed Operation Heinze.

Among the cocaine bricks were cash, silver bars and coins, and other illicit drugs including magic mushrooms.

Nova Scotia RCMP reveal items seized as part of a large drug trafficking investigation in partnership Homeland Security Investigations. American officials believe the investigation led to the largest cocaine bust ever seen in western New York state. Provided/Nova Scotia RCMP

“As a result of this investigation … fewer dangerous drugs will reach the streets of Atlantic Canada,” said Supt. Jason Popik, Federal Policing Criminal Operations Officer with the Nova Scotia RCMP.

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According to police, officers identified a criminal group involving 37-year-old Ahmed El Kady from Hamilton, Ont. in spring 2022. RCMP allege the group was importing drugs into Canada from the United States, and was moving imported cocaine throughout Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

In May, officers conducted a traffic stop near the Cobequid Pass and intercepted 40 kilograms of cocaine en route to Halifax. Police arrested a 52-year-old Bedford, N.S. man, who was released from custody pending a court appearance.

After conducting several searches in the Halifax area in September, four people were arrested and face various charges including laundering proceeds of crime, possession of a controlled substance and possession of property obtained by crime.

At that time, investigators seized four kilograms of cocaine, about $170,000 in cash and $120,000 in silver bars — as well as six vehicles.

Arrested at truck stop

On Aug. 10, RCMP said their investigation led Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Buffalo, N.Y., to arrest El Kady, who was allegedly in possession of 433 kilograms of cocaine.

According to court documents from the United States District Court obtained by Global News, El Kady was surveilled by American law enforcement Aug. 7 after entering Detroit via the Ambassador Bridge.

The document states El Kady was driving a commercial truck bearing an Ontario licence plate, without a commercial trailer attached.

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The document further outlines that law enforcement watched “the subject vehicle” meet twice with other commercial trucks, and make “make some sort of exchange” before driving towards the western district of New York.

“Agents maintained constant visual surveillance on the Subject Vehicle throughout the trip,” it reads.

Using a federal search warrant, agents searched the vehicle at a truck stop in Buffalo and found suspected cocaine packaged in the cab of the truck in duffle bags and boxes.

A sample tested positive for cocaine in a field test.

El Kady remains in U.S. custody.

A search in Hamilton and the Niagara regions of Ontario also netted “additional evidence consistent with drug trafficking and money laundering,” said RCMP.

RCMP said Ahmed El Kady, 37, was arrested in possession of 433 kilograms of cocaine destined for Canada. Provded/Nova Scotia RCMP

The Homeland Security special agent in charge in Buffalo, Matthew Scarpino, described it as a “extraordinary” seizure of cocaine.

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“HSI will continue to partner with the RCMP, CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency), and other Canadian law enforcement agencies, to identify and dismantle criminal organizations operating throughout North America and abroad that exploit our shared border for illicit gain,” he said in a statement.

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