The RCMP arrested five men on Friday following the seizure of nine kilograms of cocaine with a street value of between $2 million and $3 million — one of the larger cocaine seizures in the history of the province.
Charged are: Herbert Lewis, 29, of St. John’s; Stephen Parsley, 32, of St. John’s; and Wayne Parsley, 54, of St. John’s. Also charged are Dimitrius Andreopoulos, 28, of Toronto and William Richmond, 38, of Grand Valley, Ont.
At a news conference today, the RCMP said the arrests came through an investigation called “Project Bowman.” During the operation it was determined that the cocaine entered the province hidden in freight being transported by a trucking company, which was unaware of the cocaine shipment.
The investigation was undertaken by the RCMP St. John's Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit with support from multiple other RCMP units in the province. RCMP Staff Sgt. Stefan Thoms provided details today on the results of the investigation.
"Project Bowman was successful in preventing a significant amount of cocaine from reaching the streets of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Thoms said. ”When money is used to purchase cocaine it goes right into the hands of criminals who have little concern for the safety of our citizens. This amount of cocaine is typical with criminal groups that operate at a high level who are well established in the supply of drugs to our province. These same groups mistakenly perceive Newfoundland and Labrador as a safe place to conduct their criminal activities. The RCMP is committed to disrupting those groups by continuing to identify their illegal activities and laying appropriate charges whenever justified.”
It is normally the case that cocaine at the multi-kilogram level gets diluted several times while being prepared for use at the street level, giving this seizure an end value worth of two to three million dollars.
One charge each of trafficking in cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking have been laid against all five accused. An additional charge of breach of recognizance has been laid against Stephen Parsley.
Herbert Lewis and Wayne Parsley have subsequently been released on bail, while Dimitrius Andreopoulos, Stephen Parsley and William Richmond have been held pending bail hearings this week.
In addition to the cocaine, various other items related to cocaine distribution were seized, including a hydraulic press, vacuum sealers, cell phones and several thousand of dollars in cash.
Further investigation is being carried out with a view to identifying other possible suspects.
“The social issues associated to drugs such as cocaine negatively impact the fabric of our society and jeopardize the health of everyone, especially those vulnerable to addictions and our youth,” Thoms said. “Our highest priority is to safeguard the residents, families and communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.”