Toronto [Canada], June 23 (ANI): Toronto Police on Tuesday (local time) seized drugs worth USD 61 million, in one of the biggest drug busts in its history and arrested 20 people involved in a sophisticated international drug smuggling operation, local media reported.
A minor was also among the 20 arrested in the drug seizure that consisted of a total 1,000 kg of drugs and USD one million in cash, reported Toronto SUN.
"It is the first time we have seen something at this level of sophistication," said Toronto Police Chief James Ramer at a Tuesday morning press conference announcing the bust.
Project Brisa dismantled an international drug ring and netted over USD 61 million in narcotics in a month-long drug bust -- that began November 2020 and ended with a major seizure May 10.
The six-month investigation involved the cooperation of at least ten agencies, including York Regional Police, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services, US Homeland Security, and the US Drug Enforcement Agency, reported Toronto SUN.
"Quite frankly, you're getting some cartel involvement down in South America," Ramer said.
"I think the bigger issue it speaks to is supply and demand. There is a tonne of money being made."
The drugs were busted by Project Brisathat focused on the import of cocaine and crystal meth from Mexico, to California, and into Canada via tractor-trailers. Police executed 35 search warrants across the country. The accused face 182 charges, reported Toronto SUN.
"A seizure of this size will have a big impact not just with the drugs themselves but also with the repercussions and the harms that come from those drugs being on the streets; trips to the emergency wards and so forth," said Inspector Tyrone Hilton of the Toronto Drug Squad.
Also seized in the operation was 444 kg of cocaine, 182 kg of crystal meth, 21 vehicles including five tractor trailers, and one firearm.
Hilton explained how the tractor's cabs were rigged with hydraulic traps capable of smuggling up to 100 kg of illicit substances; all without being detected at the border.
"Whoever designed this took steps to make sure the x-ray machines would not be able to work," Inspector Hilton said.
The man who designed the traps, 43-year-old Jason Hall of Surrey, British Columbia, turned himself in last week, police said. He faces conspiracy and participation in a criminal organization charges.
Police say the smugglers used crossings at Sarnia, Windsor, and Niagara to move illicit products into Canada.
"They wanted to change it up to avoid detection," Hilton said.
"In my experience I have not seen a lot of this," Ramer explained.
"We have had traps in cars, vehicles before with small little homemade devices. This is much more professionally done. Very much more sophisticated."
Despite the 20 arrests, police are still on the hunt for two suspects allegedly connected to the vast drug operation.
William Nhan, 23, and McManus, 38 each face a number of charges including participating in a criminal organization, reported Toronto SUN. (ANI)