Nine charged in major drug bust

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Police operation nabs suspects in B.C., N.L.

One by one, they were paraded into provincial court in St. John's.

Nine of the 13 people believed to have been involved in a major drug operation in this province - with more than $1 million worth of cocaine and marijuana - stood before a judge and were formally charged.

From drug trafficking and possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking to money laundering and committing a crime for a criminal organization, the charges were read by Judge Robert Hyslop to each accused as they appeared individually.

Nine of 13 people believed to be involved in a major drug operation in this province appeared in provincial court in St. Johns Wednesday to face charges. The accused: (Top row, left to right) are Andrew Green, Evan Brennan-Smith and Martin Tulk; (Second r

One by one, they were paraded into provincial court in St. John's.

Nine of the 13 people believed to have been involved in a major drug operation in this province - with more than $1 million worth of cocaine and marijuana - stood before a judge and were formally charged.

From drug trafficking and possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking to money laundering and committing a crime for a criminal organization, the charges were read by Judge Robert Hyslop to each accused as they appeared individually.

Their appearances took up the entire afternoon in Courtroom No. 7.

The eight men and one woman were arrested Tuesday night in St. John's, Mount Pearl and Conception Bay South.

It was the result of a four-month drug investigation, dubbed Operation Razorback, which was initiated by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, with the assistance of the RCMP B division. The RCMP Richmond detachment, Victoria Police Department, Saanich police and RCMP Vancouver Airport Crime Unit also helped out.

Evidence of gang involvement

It's believed to be the first evidence in this province of gang-related drug activity.

Four of the 13 people facing charges are from the metro area - Bradley Kavanagh, 21, and Mary Alexandra English, 19, from St. John's, and James W. Coady, 36, and Martin Tulk, 25, from Conception Bay South.

A fifth person, Christopher Mark Webster, is listed as having an unknown address, but is also believed to be from the St. John's area.

Coady and Tulk were released from custody - Coady on a $15,000 cash deposit recognizance and Tulk with $10,000.

English, who had tears in her eyes when she entered the courtroom, will be back in court today as lawyers work out her release conditions.

Kavanagh and Webster, meanwhile, are still at large and have warrants out for their arrests.

The remaining eight facing charges are residents of Victoria, B.C.

They are Ricco Zanolli, 20, Evan Brennan-Smith, 20, brothers Julian Strongitharm, 28, and Ben Strongitharm, 23, Jacob Hauge, 18, Zachary Hill, 24, Peter Blok-Andersen and Andrew Green.

Zanolli is in jail in Whitehorse, Yukon, having been charged with assault and extortion after he allegedly stabbed and threatened to kill a man and shot another in the arm on Boxing Day.

Warrant issued

Hauge was also not in court, as he's believed to be at large in British Columbia.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Of the six from B.C. who appeared in court Wednesday, Crown prosecutors Mike Madden and Brenda Boyd opposed their release.

Bail hearings for each of them have been scheduled over the next week.

The offences for all 13 are said to have happened between September 2009 and Jan. 12.

Police will reveal more about the investigation, the amount of drugs involved and the size of the operation today, when it briefs the media at RNC headquarters in St. John's.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Organizations: RNC

Geographic location: St. John's, Victoria, Mount Pearl Saanich RCMP Vancouver Airport Whitehorse Yukon British Columbia

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