Items total $1.4 million
Weapons, drugs, jewelry and even a set of diamond-studded teeth grills, along with photos of vehicles and wads of money were laid out for reporters to see today at RCMP headquarters in St. John’s.
The items were seized as part of Project Broken, an investigation into organized crime and drug trafficking that resulted in multiple criminal charges against five people, including two men from Torbay and one from St. John’s.
It also resulted in the seizure of $843,000 — the single largest cash seizure by provincial police in the province’s history.
The investigation began in May 2017. Police were able to identify the structure of the organized crime group and its interprovincial drug trafficking network, which was responsible for the importation of large volumes of cocaine into the province and the laundering of monies associated with its operation.
The weapons consisted of three firearms — a pump-action shot gun, semi-automatic rifle and a nine-millimetre handgun — and knives. The drugs included six kilograms of cocaine and 16 doses of LSD. Among the jewellery was a $12,000 Rolex watch, while the set of teeth grills is valued at $7,000. There were also 15 telecommunication devices, clothing, financial documents and money counters.
Two large photos showed wads of money, as well as five vehicles, including a Hummer and a Mercedes-Benz.
In all, the items and money totalled $1.4 million.
The investigation in this province was supposed by the RCMP Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CSFEU) in Montreal, RCMP Alberta, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Correctional Services Canada and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
The men arrested from this province were Jonathan Brandon Mahon, 27, of St. John’s Nicklaus James Travis, 29, of Torbay and Thomas Scott Brown, 30, also of Torbay.
All three men face charges of conspiracy to traffic in drugs. Mahon and Travis are also charged with possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking drugs.
Mahon faces counts of possessing a restricted firearm (hand) without a licence, possessing a firearm (handgun) with the serial number removed and two counts of careless storage of a firearm (shotgun and rifle). Travis is also charged with trafficking cocaine.
They appeared in court Oct. 9 and are due back before a judge Dec. 14.
Charlotte Toomey, 29 of North Bay, Ont., and Michael Douglas Smith, 28, who is s in Drummondville Penitentiary, face charges of conspiracy to traffic in drugs, laundering proceeds of crime and possessing proceeds of crime. Smith is in jail in Drummondville serving a sentence in relation to Operation Tailwind, a 2016 CSFEU Newfoundland and Labrador investigation that resulted in the seizure of 10 kilograms of cocaine and $276,000 in cash.
The investigation is ongoing and more charges may be laid in the coming weeks.
“This type of operation and the methods used by this group is indicative of how organized crime works across Canada — operating in and affecting several provinces and communities …,” said Insp. Derek Santosuosso, who is in charge of the federal serious organized crime unit in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This takes a significant amount of drugs off the street. I hope it also has an impact on anyone looking to commit these kinds of acts (in the future).”
— RCMP Insp. Derek Santosuosso
Staff Sgt. Stefan Thoms, who runs the federal serious and organized Crime unit in St. John’s, said it’s not surprising to find drugs and weapons in drug busts and that the public should not be worried.
“It’s not something the regular person, going about their business, should be concerned about,” said Thoms, who said the bust is not believed to have had links to Hells Angels. “It’s been my experience that it’s been predominantly used for either protection or intimidation.”
He said the seizure is a win for the police and the community and officers will continue to work diligently to rid our communities of such criminal activity.
However, it’s a common activity in every province and there are always more to follow.
“As long as there’s a demand for the product, there’s going to be someone who’ll want to buy it,” Thoms said. “Where there’s a dollar to be made, organized crime is certainly going to be there to try and make that dollar.”
Thoms also noted that such investigations are also complex, in that they’re resource intensive and have extensive court requirements to get convictions.