A multi-jurisdiction drug investigation in northeastern Ontario has resulted in dozens of arrests and more than 300 charges.
In November 2015, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) began a joint investigation to identify and dismantle drug distribution networks trafficking prescription medications and illicit drugs to communities in northeastern Ontario. The lengthy investigation focused on the Timmins and Chapleau area and James Bay coastal communities, noting these drugs typically sell at four times the street price compared to urban centres, providing considerable profit incentive for criminals to exploit vulnerable residents in Aboriginal communities.
At a news conference in Timmins today, NAPS Chief Terry ARMSTRONG, OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, Timmins Police Chief John GAUTHIER and Anishinabek Police Service Deputy Chief Dave WHITLOW unveiled details of the investigation and displayed samples of the evidence seized during the six-month probe. They were joined by Nishnawbe-Aski Nation leaders who provided insight into the challenges and devastating impacts illegal drugs and misuse of prescription medications have had on their citizens.
During Project COAST, 21 search warrants were executed earlier this month at locations in northern and eastern Ontario. Police seized:
- 57,792 methamphetamine tablets,
- 7,229 oxycodone pills,
- 706 grams of cocaine,
- 476.6 grams of marihuana, and
- 154.25 fentanyl patches.
Police also seized more than 252-thousand dollars in Canadian currency, one shotgun and a bulletproof vest. As a result, 55 people have been charged with 341 offences under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) and the Criminal Code of Canada. (See ADDENDUM OF CHARGED PERSONS.)
Several of the accused persons will appear at Ontario Courts of Justice at various times, dates and locations. The investigation continues.
“The trafficking of illegal and prescription drugs brings an element of society into our communities that engage in further criminal behaviours to protect their enterprises. By working collaboratively with our police partners and mobilizing community leaders, the individuals who target our people have been arrested and charged as we tackle several challenging issues.” – Chief Terry ARMSTRONG, Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service
“Project COAST demonstrates that the OPP will do whatever it takes to support our police and Aboriginal community partners to support the wellness of our most vulnerable communities and prevent further harm and victimization.” – Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) HAWKES, Ontario Provincial Police.