Dubbed Project Declass, RCMP Manitoba’s multi province, the multijurisdictional and international sting is on the books as the largest organized crime drug bust in Manitoba to date.
The total amount of drugs seized throughout the investigation is 22 kilograms of methamphetamine, which translates to about 220,000 hits, and 43 kilograms of cocaine. The street value of these drugs is estimated to be $6.5 million dollars. This investigation has resulted in the largest amount of meth seized in an organized crime investigation in Manitoba history.
Project Declass was a 16-month investigation into a drug trafficking network operating out of Winnipeg. The investigation began in August 2018 with the arrest of two Winnipeg residents who were attempting to import 40 kilograms of cocaine into Manitoba.
Working with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the Canada Border Services Agency; the RCMP launched a full-scale investigation into the failed importation attempt.
Project Declass uncovered an integrated network of individuals belonging to different organized crime groups that were working together in an opportunistic fashion to import and distribute illicit drugs in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba. While not recorded, Portage la Prairie would be in this network.
At 6 a.m., on Dec. 4, 2019, nine coordinated search warrants were executed. Seven in Winnipeg, one in St. Laurent, Manitoba, and one in Calgary, Alberta.
During these search warrants, nine people were arrested and safely taken into custody. Two more people were arrested on December 5th, bringing the total number of individuals arrested to 11. In total, 66 charges have been laid to date against these 11 individuals. Charges include but are not limited to: trafficking of meth and cocaine, conspiracy to traffic fentanyl, possession of proceeds of crime, and money laundering.
In addition, five vehicles were seized, including a 2018 Harley Davidson motorcycle and financial seizures to date totalling over $100,000.
This investigation is ongoing and restraining orders have been placed on additional bank accounts.
“Project Declass is an excellent example of how the RCMP works with our international and domestic partners to identify, target and arrest those who are importing cocaine, meth, fentanyl and other illicit drugs into our country,” police said in a Dec. 10 press release.
Cooperation agencies included the Manitoba RCMP, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Canada Border Service Agency, Calgary Police Service, Regina Police Service, the MB Liquor & Lotteries Corporation, Seized Property Management Directorate, Health Canada, Fintrac, as well as RCMP investigators in British-Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. “These partnerships were crucial to the success of the investigation.”
Names of the two additional suspects arrested and charged on Dec. 5, during Project Declass are Jess Thomas, 34 and John Everse Medina, 33.
Names of the nine other suspects arrested and charged during Project Declass can be found at: