LOCAL NEWS

WPS Organized Crime Unit Kicks Some Ass With Project Sideshow!

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WINNIPEG POLICE SERVICE SPOKESMAN CONSTABLE JASON MICHALYSHEN

On Thursday, February 13, 2014, the Winnipeg Police Service held a press conference announcing the results of “Project Sideshow,” a complex drug investigation initiated in the Spring of 2012, targeting an Interprovincial Organized Crime Group.

The group is alleged to import cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy into the City of Winnipeg for further distribution.

Over the course of an eighteen (18) month period, Police utilized court authorized techniques to intercept communication between drug traffickers and to covertly observe, photograph and sample their drugs.  The following was documented;

  • 92 kilograms of cocaine (street value of $5,000,000.00)
  • 3½ kilograms of methamphetamine (street value of $192,000.00)
  • 1 kilogram of MDMA (Ecstasy) (street value of $20,000.00)
  • Over $4,300,000.00 cash from proceeds of drug sales

Investigators working the project indicate the actual amounts of drugs and cash travelling back and forth are believed to far exceed the amounts they observed.  Additionally, police noted evidence of money laundering where the proceeds from the sale of illicit drugs were laundered through the use of privately owned ATM machines located within local businesses.

On February 5th, 2014 nineteen (19) search warrants were executed and fourteen (14) individuals were arrested in Winnipeg and British Columbia.   The following was seized:

  • $301,800.00 Canadian currency
  • Over 5 kilograms of Cocaine
  • 1.5 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy)
  • 17 ounces of Ketamine
  • 3 pounds of Cannabis Marihuana
  • Over 8 kilograms cutting agent
  • Drug trafficking paraphernalia (i.e. packaging materials, scales, cell phones, a vacuum sealer and a money counter)
  • 9 mm semi-automatic handgun
  • Sawed off 12 gauge shotgun (prohibited)
  • Olympic arms assault rifle
  • Ammunition and magazines
  • Ballistic vest
  • 9 Vehicles including one Motorcycle
  • 6 ATM machines (from 4 locations)

The following suspects were arrested and charged with a variety of conspiracy, drug and firearm related offences in connection with the investigation;

  • Ronald Baldovi (35) Port Coquitlam, BC
  • Carol Villanueva Banayos (32) Winnipeg, MB
  • Ronald George Morrison (67) Winnipeg, MB
  • Rayan Dizon (35) Winnipeg, MB
  • Oliver Villanueva Banayos (36) Winnipeg, MB
  • Philip Manh Nguyen (28) Winnipeg, MB
  • Lindsey Lafrenais (32) Winnipeg, MB
  • Baljinder Singh (33) Winnipeg, MB
  • Narinder Singh (39) Winnipeg, MB
  • Chandeep Singh Dhaliwal (28) Howden, MB
  • Timothy Fuller (46) Vancouver, BC
  • Cara Melissa Smith (33) Vancouver, BC
  • Vanessa Gillies (27) Toronto, ON / Winnipeg, MB
  • Ryan Michael Dimaala (32) Winnipeg, MB

All but one suspect was detained at the Provincial Remand Center.

Police indicate they believe the operation has “crippled” the Organized Crime Group and are hoping a message has been sent to other like groups who participate in high level drug trafficking activities in Winnipeg.

INSIDER COMMENTARY:

In 2008, I accepted a position as one of the Sergeants in charge of the Organized Crime Unit.

When I accepted the position I was informed the Unit was going to depart from long-term high level drug investigations because the labour intensive operations drained Police resources and limited the Police Service’s ability to respond to lower level gang related crime.

In 2007, the City of Winnipeg experienced a major escalation of gang and gun violence in several disadvantaged communities.  A significant number of shootings and murders during this time were directly related to conflict between the Indian Posse and rival street gangs.

In retrospect, many gang investigators agree that notorious Indian Posse gang leader Tyson Roulette’s rise to power could be directly attributed to the Police high-level project based approach.  In other words, the Police took their “eye off the ball” when it came to the Indian Posse.

The “court authorized techniques” mentioned in the press release are commonly referred to as “sneak and peeks” in the Police vernacular.

“General Warrants,” issued by a Judge provides Police with the lawful authority to use extraordinary investigative techniques or otherwise do things described in the warrant which would normally constitute an unreasonable search or seizure.  Extraordinary investigative techniques like utilizing wire taps, taking covert video and photographs or sampling narcotics.

The drugs observed, photographed and sampled are left in the possession and control of the Organized Crime Group as investigators build their case.

In November 2009, Police utilized these extraordinary investigative techniques during, “Operation Sport Track,” another highly successful Organized Crime Unit project targeting high level drug traffickers.  Investigators working the project seized large quantities of cocaine, hashish, marihuana and over half a million dollars in cash.  Police also seized a large quantity of jewellery and half a dozen vehicles.

The nature and quality of the evidence secured during these types of investigations generally renders accused offenders indefensible.  As a result, plea bargain arrangements are often made to resolve these cases.

In 2013, Police Chief Devon Clunis re-aligned the Organized Crime Unit with the Street Crimes Unit to address the resource gaps that may have existed in the fight to combat high-level organized crime and violent street gangs.  The move has been embraced by Supervisors and Investigators and is credited with improving efficiency while eliminating competing interests and overlap.

(In 2008, I recognized the need to align these Units and submitted a detailed report making the recommendation to the Police Executive.  Unfortunately, Police Executives in charge at the time were resistant to change and oblivious to the realities of the street.)

RELATED LINK:

Winnipeg Free Press – Mike McIntyre “Drug Trafficking Network Dealt Crippling Blow”

Winnipeg Free Press – Mike McIntyre “High-tech Aids Major Drug Bust”

6 Comments

  1. It’s true….

    Drug dealers number one concern is stacking paper…

    During sentencing hearings I’ve heard Judges remark, “Dealing drugs is dealing death and misery.” Unfortunately, the speeches are often followed by ridiculously soft sentences.

    Criminal justice has evolved to the point that a significant imbalance exists when it comes to the risk vs reward scenario. When the deterrents are not there crime will continue to flourish.

    Appreciate your point of view.

    Thank you for commenting.

  2. True…

    Drugs fuels a great percentage of the crime Police deal with….

    We definitely need to put a lot more work into reducing the demand.

    Thank you for commenting!

  3. In every case like this skilled investigators do their utmost to debrief arrestee’s regarding their involvement and knowledge of the crimes under investigation.

    One of the goals is to convert suspects into Crown witnesses or confidential informants.

    The Police efforts often yield excellent results as evidenced by the large number of “agent” based investigations that have occurred in Manitoba over the last several years.

    In my experience, most drug dealers are quick to turn on their former friends and associates if it means cutting a deal for themselves. There really is very little honour or loyalty among thieves!

  4. While it’s true that drugs, much like any other consumer good, follows a supply and demand trend we cannot simply give up because it’s an uphill battle.

    The police, courts, legislators, and indeed society at large must continue to fight against that which would see the collapse of our youth, economy, health, society, etc.

    I applaud the ongoing efforts of all law enforcement who continue to investigate and arrest these cowardly dealers who feel absolutely no remorse in distributing hard, highly dangerous and addictive drugs into our community. They don’t care that our children will come into contact with this stuff in our schools. They don’t care how many families will be torn apart from the addictions these hard drugs create. They don’t care about all of the spin-off crime that is created by addicts such as robbery, assaults, domestic violence, etc. There is zero empathy for the wake of destruction their actions cause.

    The only thing these guys seem to care about is how much tax-free money they can bring in so they can afford to go on nice vacations, go to nice restaurants, buy nice clothes, watches, cars, tattoos, etc.

    Even though the war on drugs seems to be an uphill, seemingly insurmountable one, we must not give up. We must continue to reclaim our streets, neighborhoods and society from those who would see it destroyed so they can line their pockets.

    Kudos to the Sheepdogs.

  5. Unless the demand for drugs be properly addressed, gang violence will always be an entrenched and sad reality for our most vulnerable.

  6. Would it be fair to hope that, in exchange for testimony of more serious crimes i.e. murder, that some of the above accused might turn on their buddies and get a lighter sentence?

    Just wondering if this operation will lead to more arrests.

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