A months-long multi-agency investigation into the trafficking of contraband tobacco from a manufacturing facility on Six Nations territory, tracked links to criminal drug trafficking networks in BC and the GTA.
In addition to the production and trafficking of contraband tobacco, the team uncovered drug trafficking networks responsible for large shipments of illicit cannabis on a weekly basis from British Columbia to Ontario.
The tobacco was being assembled into contraband cigarettes at the Six Nations facility, then trafficked to other parts of Ontario and Canada, including British Columbia, where it was sold on the street.
While the manufacturing facility is located on Six Nations Territory, it is unregulated and operated by an organized crime group from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) police say.
Police stress the residents of the Six Nations Territory have not seen any investment into their communities from the profits of this illegal operation and it has in no way benefited the community.
Project CAIRNES commenced in July 2018. The investigation was led by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) along with the OPP-led CTET and Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit (PAFU), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU), Ministry of Finance (MOF) in Ontario and British Columbia and FINTRAC.
Based on evidence gathered throughout the duration of the project and the identification of a cocaine and fentanyl trafficking network operating in the GTA, six people were arrested and charged with 98 offences on April 18, when a threat to public safety was uncovered.
On June 1, investigators from the Project CAIRNES team executed 13 search warrants in five Ontario locations including Toronto, Oakville, Markham, Mississauga and Ohsweken, Montreal, Quebec as well as Richmond and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The accused are closely associated with members of Traditional Organized Crime (TOC) and other organized crime groups.
The charges laid include conspiracy to commit murder, firearms possession, drug trafficking and driving-related offences.
Area residents charged are:
Elvis Wythe, 64, Derek Wythe, 35, both of Hagersville, and Brian Denisson, 61, of Ohsweken with:
Trafficking in Contraband Tobacco – Sect. 121.1 CC
Conspiracy to Commit Indictable Offence – Sect. 465(1)(c) x4
Participation in Criminal Organization – Sect. 467.11 CC
Commission of offence for criminal organization – Sect. 467.12
Possession of property or proceeds obtained by the commission of an offence – Sect. 230(1) EA
Manufacturing a tobacco product without a licence – Sect. 25(1) EA
Packaging or stamping of tobacco products – Sect. 27 EA
Unlawful possession or sale of tobacco products – Sect. 32(1) EA
Unlawful possession of tobacco manufacturing equipment – Sect. 32.1(1) EA
Similar charges have been laid against GTA resident Giovanni Raimondi, 38,Toronto, and with the addition of cannabis charges: Jing Git Wong, 50, Scarborough, Nguyen Quang, 64, and King Ming Chan, 61, both of Markham.
BC residents were charged with: conspiracy, Tuan-Ky Quach, 50, Vancouver. Cannabis charges, Zhi Jun Liu, 57, Vancouver.
A slew of offences including conspiracy to commit murder, firearms offences and trafficking drugs including cocaine and opioids were laid against GTA residents Gurvir Deol, 25, Justin Boya, 28, Hamed Shahnawaz, 30, Surinder Cheema, 26, all of Brampton, Dilraj Sunner, 23 of Mississauga, Ahmad Shamszada, 34, Toronto, and Liban Hussein, 26 of Weston.
Project CAIRNES has led to the seizure of:
11.5 million contraband cigarettes, with a street value in Ontario of approximately $942,000 and a street value in British Columbia of approximately $2.6 million;
1,714 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of $2.5 million;
Three (3) handguns and associated ammunition;
A cocaine press;
1.14 kilograms of cocaine;
10.2 kilograms of Piperidone;
1.3 kilograms of fentanyl;
$236,750 in CAD currency;
and Seven (7) vehicles as Offence-Related Property.
Collectively, the associated tax loss including Provincial, Federal and HST has been more than $3.3 million based on the contraband cigarettes that were seized throughout the investigation.
“Project CAIRNES has focused on a criminal organization producing and trafficking contraband tobacco on an industrial scale throughout Canada,” says Detective Inspector Jim Walker, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB), Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team (CTET).
“While this investigation has aimed to dismantle this one particular group and their blatant disregard for the regulations surrounding tobacco, there are many operating simultaneously.
“CTET plays an integral role in the disruption of these networks and the proceeds they generate. These high profit operations are often utilized to fund other criminal activities, as demonstrated by the vast amount of charges laid including Conspiracy to Commit Murder.”
All of the accused have been charged and released, and will attend an Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto on dates in July and August.