Brampton, Hamilton, Milton, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne men nailed in $67 million drug bust

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Published September 29, 2022 at 1:02 pm

A 10-month investigation into a huge $67 million drug ring has seen men from Brampton, Hamilton, Milton, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne and other Ontario locations charged.

The drug sting, dubbed “Project Gateway,” saw 175 officers from Peel Police, Niagara Police and the Hamilton-Niagara RCMP, as well as 10 Canada Border Services Agency officers, saw 12 raids on homes and a total of 120 charges so far.

Raids were held at homes in Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Milton, Niagara Falls, Thorold, as well as Etobicoke, Woodbridge and Richmond Hill, which saw 20 men, ranging in age from 24 to 81 years facing charges.

Police say an organized group of drug smugglers were caught in a number crimes, including:

  • Smuggling cocaine from Mexico and Los Angeles into Canada by transport truck and boat across the St. Clair River;
  • Operating cocaine extraction labs in Southwest Ontario properties disguising smuggled cocaine;
  • Smuggling marijuana from Canada to the United States and other countries internationally by transport truck and registered shipping services;
  • Smuggling large amounts of tobacco from the United States into Canada by transport truck;
  • Smuggling people across the Niagara River into New York State by boat;
  • Possessing stolen cars/trucks and shipping them overseas;
  • Firearms possession;
  • Employing illegal foreign workers to work at cannabis production sites and to clean chain hotels;
  • Production of cannabis on a massive scale and smuggled into the United States using transport trucks; and
  • Production of illegal cigarettes.

The seizure in the raids included:

  • A shipment of cannabis weighing 339.5 pounds that was destined for Europe worth $1,356,000;
  • 22 skids of undeclared tobacco, weighing 33,000 pounds worth $230,000;
  • 45,000 marijuana plants and over 20,000 pound of processed cannabis worth $62,792,000;
  • 80 kilos of cocaine worth $3,200,000 seized by authorities in Canada and the United States.

On September 14, further raids scooped up of 3,007 pounds of cannabis worth $3,007,500, 136 grams of cocaine worth $13,630, three handguns, two shotguns, a rifle, 1650 rounds of ammunition, six stolen vehicles and over $467,000 in crime cash.

As a result of Project Gateway, the following charges have been laid:

Raghbir Shergill Singh, 42, of Milton was charged with:

  • Three counts of conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Three counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Taking part in a criminal organization
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000

Harpal Bhangoo, 42, of Brampton was charged with:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Two counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Taking part in a criminal organization
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000

Jonjel Barbu, 53, of Hamilton was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking

Davor Perhot, 61, of Niagara Falls was charged with:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Two counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Taking part in a criminal organization
  • Two counts of conspiracy to export cannabis
  • Possession of cannabis for trafficking
  • Possession of oxycodone for trafficking
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000 – S. 355(a) CC

Nereo Frank Fogazzi, 81, of Port Colborne was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Taking part in a criminal organization

Ibrahim Hamzic, 43, of Niagara Falls, Ontario was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Two counts of possession of oxycodone for trafficking
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000

Antoine Balanian, 50, of Niagara Falls was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking

Ollie Mastronardi, 69, of Leamington was charged with:

  • Cultivating illicit cannabis
  • Cultivation of cannabis without authorization

Mark Mastronardi, 43, of Leamington was charged with:

  • Possession of cannabis for trafficking
  • Cultivating illicit cannabis
  • Cultivation of cannabis without authorization

Joseph Spano, 45, of Leamington was charged with:

  • Possession of cannabis for trafficking
  • Cultivating illicit cannabis
  • Cultivation of cannabis without authorization

Daniel Fogazzi, 59, of Woodbridge was:

  • Charged in the United States in relation to 78 kilograms of cocaine

Itolo Mallozzi, 66, of Woodbridge was charged with:

  • Three counts of conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Three counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Taking part in a criminal organization
  • Exportation of cannabis
  • Conspiracy to export cannabis
  • Conspiracy to smuggle/sell tobacco
  • Two counts of possession of cannabis resin for trafficking
  • Providing false statements
  • Evading compliance
  • Evading duties and taxes
  • Illegally importing goods
  • Attempt to smuggle
  • Unlawful possession or sale of tobacco products

Anthony Fogazzi, 25, of Woodbridge was charged with:

  • Committing an offence for a criminal organization
  • Three counts of conspiracy to export cannabis

Raytcho Kitchoukov, 59, of Etobicoke was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Committing an offence for a criminal organization
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000 and seven counts of stolen vehicles
  • Possession of cocaine for trafficking

Vincent Pileggi, 66 of Richmond Hill was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking
  • Commission of an offence for a criminal organization
  • Knowledge of unauthorized firearm possession
  • Possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition
  • Tampering with a firearm serial number
  • Careless storage of a firearm
  • Possession of cannabis for trafficking
  • Possession of crime cash over $5,000

Fawzi Zaid, 28 of Windsor was charged with:

  • Possession cocaine for trafficking

Mel Rentaria Castro, 48, of Surrey, British Columbia was charged with:

  • Possession cocaine for trafficking

Mehakdeep Maan, 24, of Brampton was charged with:

  • Three counts of conspiracy to export cannabis
  • Commission of an offence for a criminal organization
  • Fail to comply with a court recognizance

John Mercante, 35, of Binbrook was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to import cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking

Mario Nicastro, 55, of North York was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to smuggle/sell tobacco

In addition to the Peel Police, Niagara Police, Hamilton-Niagara RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency,  several law enforcement agencies worked as part of Project Gateway including: FBI Buffalo International Organized Crime Task Force, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, multiple units from the OPP, Windsor Police, Lasalle Police, Chatham Police, York Police, Gatineau Police, Hamilton Police, Toronto Police and Halton Police.

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