Two Edmonton man have been arrested and another two are wanted by RCMP for their roles in an alleged cocaine trafficking ring in the Northwest Territories.
Mounties laid charges against 15 people following a year-long investigation nicknamed Project Gloomiest, which not only resulted in the seizure of close to 1.5 kg of cocaine but also two firearms.
The investigation began after the RCMP were tipped off by Canada’s financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC, after analysts there had noticed “suspicious movements of money” believed to be linked to the drug trade in the region.
“This was a very challenging investigation, compounded by the fact that many of the people we encountered were from out of town, and operated under pseudonyms,” Northwest Territories RCMP federal investigations unit Staff Sgt. Dean Riou said in a statement last week.
“Extensive efforts were made to confirm the identity of these people who came to Yellowknife to exploit our most vulnerable citizens.
“In addition to trafficking cocaine, some of the individuals charged are alleged to have trafficked substitute substances that they represented as cocaine.
“While this is obviously profitable, it is a very dangerous activity that fuels violence associated to the drug trade, which puts both the trafficker and the general public at risk.”
Two search warrants were executed earlier this year in May after investigators “observed the unlawful transfer of a firearm during the course of their surveillance.”
Parts of the dismantled firearm were recovered during the searches, Mounties said.
The main suspect of the investigation was 23-year-old Toufic Chamas but was expanded to include “other people working in concert” with the Edmonton man.
Chamas faces four counts of trafficking cocaine and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Another Edmonton man, 40-year-old Abdifatah Maie, is charged with two counts of trafficking cocaine.
Facing the same charges are Yellowknife residents Andrew Rheaume, 24, Toni Tobac, 27, Brandon Topilikon, 26, Caitlin Stewart, 27, and Julie Carter, 33.
Clayton Christensen, 40, of Yellowknife, is charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm.
Arrest warrants on trafficking cocaine charges have been issued for Mohammed Ahmad, 20, and Rasid Abdula, 23, both of Edmonton, as well as Abdikani Warsame, 27, of Toronto, Paul Mangiel, 27, of Red Deer, Kerry Balsillie, 30, of Yellowknife, Samatar Yousuf, 22, of Ottawa and Brett Lacey, 29, of no fixed address.
Earlier this year Chamas became the first person in the Northwest Territories to be successfully convicted of the unsafe operation of a drone.
Chamas pleaded guilty on Sept. 18 and was handed a $3,000 fine and prohibited from flying an aircraft for three years, which is the maximum prohibition for a first offence.
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