More than 33 suspects, including 23 Indian-origin Punjabis, have been arrested after a transnational illicit drug trafficking network was busted in Canada. The Drug syndicate centered around Canada’s Ontario, British Columbia, and the US’ California has been busted with the arrest of 33 people who were charged with over 130 criminal offenses.
Among the 33, 27 were arrested and charged in the Greater Toronto Area, with 19 of them hailing from the town of Brampton. Of these, 23 are of Punjabi origin. One suspect, Gurbinder Sooch, remains at large.
Officers seized drugs valued at approximately $2.3 million and including 10 kg of cocaine, 8 kg of ketamine, 3 kg of heroin, and 2.5 kg of opium. Investigators also seized 48 firearms and $730,000 in Canadian currency. Most of the weapons were seized from Caledon. Police say the guns were lawfully possessed by a person who now faces charges.
As per media reports from Canada, the police with the help of some international agencies began working on a special operation code-named Project Cheetah to break the back of an international drug network in Canada that imported cocaine, heroin, opium, and ketamine into Canada, the US, India and other parts of the world.
On April 8, police in Ontario, British Columbia, and California executed more than 50 search warrants, in which 33 people were arrested and charged. York Regional Police, that led the crackdown, said multiple agencies worked on the operation that “dismantled a large-scale international drug trafficking network that extended to western Canada, the United States and India”. The York Regional Police also said that some of the drugs were found at “kids indoor playground”.
This big success against the drug cartel has excited Indian security agencies, especially the Punjab Police and the Narcotics Control Bureau, whose officials had shared vital inputs with Canada and the USA in the last two years over the racket being run from Canadian soil.
The Indian agencies had in different operations in the last three years found drugs were transported to Canada from Punjab in vessels, electronic machines, and even in holy books. Punjab counter-intelligence teams had in June 2018 named Canadian nationals Devinder Dev and Kamaljit Singh Chauhan in a drug racket that used improvised vessels to transport ketamine and opium to Canada.
In one such case, the NCB had traced the smuggling of cocaine to Punjab from Canada for local use as well as further trafficking to Delhi and Goa. This gang first used a paper-cutting machine to send a sample of the drug. Later, it sent a consignment hidden in printer machines to a Jalandhar-based company.
“Canadian national Amrinder Singh Chhina was running the racket. As per our reports, he is active in Canada,” said an NCB official. “Another smuggler from Canada Jimmy Sandhu is reportedly in hiding after the NCB sounded Interpol about his activities.”
The agencies are hoping the follow-up investigation would lead to the arrest of a number of international smugglers based out of Canada, Italy, and Australia who were wanted by security agencies in India.
Officials with the drug network said Punjab was a vital cog in the wheel with smugglers using the state for transportation of drugs to Delhi and Goa, besides Australia, the UK, Vietnam, and Italy. “We hope to get details about the accused belonging from Punjab soon,” said officials of the Punjab Police, Special Task Force against drugs, and the Narcotics Control Bureau.
Involved in the drug racket:
- Rupinder Sharma (25), Vaughan
- Prabhsimran Kaur (25), Vaughan
- Parshotam Malhi (54), Brampton
- Rupinder Dhillon (37), Brampton
- Sanveer Singh (25), Brampton
- Haripal Nagra (45), Brampton
- Hassam Syed (30), Brampton
- Pritpal Singh (56), Brampton
- Harkiran Singh (33), Brampton
- Lakhpreet Brar (29), Brampton
- Didy Adansi (52), Toronto
- Sarbjit Singh (43), Woodstock
- Balwinder Dhaliwal (60), Brampton
- Rupinder Dhaliwal (39), Toronto
- Ranjit Singh (40), Toronto
- Sukhmanpreet Singh (23), Brampton
- Khushal Bhinder (36), Brampton
- Prabhjeet Mundian (34), Brampton
- Vansh Aurora (24), Brampton
- Simranjeet Narang (28), Brampton
- Harjinder Jhaj (28), Caledon
- Gaganpreet Gill (28), Brampton
- Sukhjit Dhaliwal (47), Brampton
- Imran Khan (33), Toronto
- Chinedu Ajoku (51), Brampton
- Harjot Singh (31), Brampton
- Sukhjit Dhugga (35), Brampton