Burlington man charged in helicopter drug smuggling operation

Published September 9, 2020 at 4:23 pm

Another new cannabis store set to open in Mississauga

A Burlington man is among several charged in the illegal flow of cannabis and guns across the Canadian and U.S. border by helicopter.

A Burlington man is among several charged in the illegal flow of cannabis and guns across the Canadian and U.S. border by helicopter.

A 16-month joint investigation by the RCMP and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations found that on several occasions a group used a Jet Ranger helicopter to fly the illegally grown cannabis across the U.S. border at low altitudes to try to avoid detection. The group crossed at secluded areas believed to be in Ontario and possibly Quebec.

Law enforcement seized the helicopter as well as a truck and trailer as part of the investigation. Police are continuing to look into the origin of the handguns.

Working with the OPP — Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team, six search warrants were executed within the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec. This resulted in the seizure of a quantity of suspected restricted and prohibited handguns, over 800 plants and dried cannabis from an illegal grow operation, and approximately 400 gms of suspected cocaine.

RCMP officers of the Hamilton-Niagara Regional Detachment Serious and Organized Crime Unit arrested Ramindejit Assi, 25, of Burlington. He is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit the unlawful export of cannabis, possession of cannabis for the purpose of exporting it and cultivating cannabis not at a dwelling house, contrary to the Criminal Code;
  • Possession of cannabis for the purpose of Export Contrary to the Cannabis Act;
  • Unlawful export of cannabis contrary to the Cannabis Act;
  • Unlawful cultivation propagation and harvest of cannabis plants at a place that is not a dwelling house, contrary to the Cannabis Act;
  • Possession of forged documents, contrary to the Criminal Code.
  • Illegal possession of brass knuckles, a prohibited device, contrary to the Criminal Code;
  • Possession of cocaine, contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Four other men from Ontario also face criminal charges.

“This important disruption removed 18 firearms from a criminal organization that posed a significant threat to Canadian communities and brazenly exploited our shared border through the air,” said Michael Buckley, Attaché, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Embassy Ottawa. “The notable success of this investigation is the result of the international law enforcement partnership between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Border Patrol.” 

Ann Koenig of the RCMP said the department is committed to combating trans-national organized crime and keeping people safeby removing illicit commodities off the streets and out of the hands of these groups.

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