Police have made a “significant dent” in the region's drug trade after seizing 15 kilograms of “very pure” cocaine and meth in southwestern Ontario.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) held a joint news conference with Canada Border Services and Waterloo police at their regional headquarters west of London on Thursday (May 22).
They released information on Project Greymouth, a nine-month probe into three distinct but connected organized crime cells, at least one of which was associated with the Mexican-Mennonite community.
Peppered with questions about the Mennonite connection, Insp. Steve Clegg said police are focused on pursuing criminal activity, not one identifiable group or another.
He said two of the three rings busted in Project Greymouth were importing pure cocaine into Canada through land border crossings with the United States.
In all 12 kilograms of “very pure” cocaine and 3.5 kilograms of 100 percent methamphetamine were seized, along with about $128,000 in mostly Canadian and some U.S. currency, four cars and a stun gun.
Twelve people arrested in Kitchener and Norfolk County face a total of 49 charges. None of the 13 search warrants were executed in London and none of those arrested are residents. A warrant for another man believed to be out of the country has been issued and the broader investigation continues.
Clegg said one of the keys of cocaine seized is worth $40,000 wholesale and $200,000 on the street in Canada at $100 per gram, assuming no one cuts it with impurities to stretch it even farther – they’ve found “cocaine” that was 80 percent filler.
He said police use the concentration of drugs seized to gauge the level of local supply: if they find high concentrations on the street, it’s likely the area is flush but if they’re finding cocaine cut down in the 20 percent range, they know dealers are stretching what they have.
Clegg said the trademark “stamps” of the cocaine producers on the bricks is further proof the drugs are very high purity and direct from Mexico. He added U.S. authorities tell the OPP they’re seeing an increase in drugs shipping direct from Mexico through the U.S. into Canada.
A Canada Border Services Agency representative said criminals would use “very sophisticated concealment techniques” to smuggle the drugs. The OPP had a hollowed out car battery on display along with the drugs and cash to illustrate.
Deputy commissioner Scott Tod said the bust was a big event for policing in southwestern Ontario but admitted there is always another entity waiting to fill a gap in the market when drugs are seized.
“What you see today represents what we could seize in one day in southwestern Ontario and Toronto,” he said. “It’s a large dent but it’s probably temporary. There’s always another organization.”