US embassy cable - 07TORONTO90

ILLICIT DRUG PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING IN ONTARIO

Identifier: 07TORONTO90
Wikileaks: View 07TORONTO90 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2007-03-08 08:59:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: SNAR SOCI PGOV KCRM CA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO9646
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0090/01 0670859
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080859Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1868
INFO RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEWMCS/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TORONTO 000090 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O.12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR SOCI PGOV KCRM CA 
SUBJECT: ILLICIT DRUG PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING IN ONTARIO 
 
Ref: 06 Ottawa 2645 
 
Sensitive But Unclassified - protect accordingly. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Police seizures and arrests during the past year 
show that illegal drug activity, including cross-border smuggling, 
continues to be a big problem in Ontario.  Police have seized large 
quantities of ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana.  They have discovered 
and shut down nearly 300 indoor marijuana grow operations in the 
Greater Toronto Area.  Police recently uncovered several marijuana 
trafficking rings operating at the Akwesasne First Nations Reserve, 
which borders the U.S. in eastern Ontario.  Police discovered two 
large methamphetamine labs north of Toronto. Police believe 
organized crime is behind much of the large-scale illegal drug 
activity.  END SUMMARY 
 
Thousands of Pills: Ecstasy Produced in Large Amounts 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
2. (SBU) Three major examples from the past year - by no means the 
only ones - include:  In January 2006 Toronto Police charged nine 
Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents for their involvement in the 
importation of approximately 4,500 kg of Chinese MDP2P, the main 
ingredient used to produce Ecstasy tablets. This amount of MDP2P 
could produce 30 million Ecstasy tablets.  "Ecstasy production in 
the GTA has been on the rise and recent investigations have shown 
that this increase is tied to both domestic and international 
markets," Supt. Ron Allen, Officer in charge of the GTA Drug Section 
told the media at that time. 
 
3. (SBU) In September 2006 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) 
arrested four Toronto residents and two Mississauga residents in 
connection with an MDMA ring trafficking drugs between Canada and 
the United States.  The investigation was prompted by U.S. 
authorities, who identified a Canadian source for MDMA distributed 
in the U.S.  Large amounts of the MDMA were allegedly exported, with 
proceeds being funneled back into Canada.  Those arrested are 
charged with conspiring to export approximately 250,000 MDMA 
tablets, worth approximately C$5 million, into the United States. 
 
4. (SBU) In October 2006 a Canadian-American joint investigation 
identified a Windsor-based criminal organization trafficking ecstasy 
from the Toronto and Windsor areas into the U.S.  During the 6 month 
investigation, police intercepted approximately 55,000 tablets, 
containing both ecstasy and methamphetamine. Police charged 16 
Ontario residents and 9 Michigan residents.  In August 2006 police 
found 68,000 tablets of ecstasy, with an estimated street value of 
C$1.3 million, in storage units in the west end of Toronto.  A 
Mississauga man, his parents, and an associate were charged with 
various drug and weapon offenses. 
 
Marijuana Grow-Ops a Constant Concern 
-------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) The U.N. Office of Drug Control (UNODC) estimates that 960 
to 2,400 metric tons of marijuana is produced annually in Canada, 
25% of which is produced in Ontario.  Police dismantled over 270 
indoor grow-ops in the GTA in 2006.  In January 2007 Toronto police 
told the press they have been discovering about one grow-op a day. 
 
 
6. (SBU) Police note that most of these operations take place 
outside high-density urban areas, due to lower real estate prices 
and increased privacy.  The average grow-op is in a private 
residence, usually a detached house of between 2,500 square feet and 
3,000 square feet, and contains some 400 - 500 plants, worth 
C$400,000 - C$500,000.  Greenhouse and clone technology in indoor 
grow-ops allow for 4-6 harvests per year, as opposed to one or two 
using traditional methods. 
 
Akwesasne Reserve a Marijuana Smuggling Site 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) In December 2006 police seized 117 lbs of marijuana from a 
resident in the Canadian portion of the Akwesasne Territory Mohawk 
Reserve, an Indian reservation located on both sides of the 
Canada-U.S. border on the east end of Lake Ontario.  A 41 year-old 
man was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.  The 
Awkesasne Territory Mohawk Reserve was also the site of another 
cross-border bust on November 20, 2006.  In that case, 12 people 
were arrested after a 2 year investigation of a drug trafficking and 
cigarette smuggling ring.  According to the Cornwall RCMP, 
cigarettes were manufactured in a factory located on the American 
side of the reserve and smuggled into Canada by boat across the St. 
Lawrence River.  Profits from the cigarette sale were used to 
purchase marijuana, which was then distributed in the U.S. 
 
8. (SBU) The Akwesasne Reserve has historically been an attractive 
site for smuggling and drug trafficking (see reftel).  It straddles 
 
TORONTO 00000090  002 OF 003 
 
 
the Ontario-Quebec provincial border and spans the Canada-U.S. 
border.  The Reserve is known as the St. Regis Mohawk Reserve in New 
York.  The 401 Trans-Canada highway is conveniently located just 
outside the reserve, providing direct routes west to Toronto and 
east to Montreal.  Federal police estimate that C$1 billion in drugs 
and contraband flow internationally through the reserve each year. 
 
 
Cocaine Imported, Marijuana Exported 
------------------------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) Large recent cocaine seizures in Ontario may indicate 
sizable drug pipelines operating across borders. Ontario-grown 
marijuana, according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), is 
often exported to the U.S. in exchange for cocaine.  Such an 
operation was dismantled in May 2006 by Toronto Police and U.S. law 
enforcement agencies, which seized 48 kg of cocaine, worth an 
estimated C$1.5 million; 1,200 lbs of marijuana, worth an estimated 
C$3.6 million; and 200 Ecstasy tablets.  Authorities charged 24 
people with 250 drug-related charges.  Trucks, cars, and boats, 14 
of which were seized by police, were used to transport the marijuana 
across the border, where it was sold.  The proceeds from the sale 
were used to purchase cocaine in the U.S, which was then imported 
back into Canada. 
 
10. (SBU) In February 2007 Canadian Border Services Authority (CBSA) 
officers seized 171 kg of cocaine at the Ambassador Bridge in 
Windsor, worth C$21 million, one of the largest cocaine seizures 
ever made at a Canadian land border crossing.  Two men, a 
Mississauga resident and a Brantford resident, were charged with the 
importation of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled 
substance for the purpose of trafficking. 
 
11. (SBU) In February 2007, Halton Regional Police (west of the GTA) 
found more than 200 kg of uncut cocaine, worth C$20 million, inside 
a transport truck which entered Canada from the U.S. Investigators 
believe that the drugs were destined for a distributor, and that 
organized crime was involved.  The driver of the truck, a Brampton 
resident, was arrested for drug trafficking. 
 
12. (SBU) On February 13, 2007 Ottawa Police busted a cocaine and 
ecstasy ring, believed to have been distributing between 30 and 50 
kg of cocaine per month.  Four Montreal area raids and eight Ottawa 
area sites led to the arrest of 18 people, including the head of the 
ring. Together, they face 138 drug, weapons, and criminal activity 
charges.  The operation seized a variety of drugs (22 kg of cocaine, 
12 kg of Ecstasy, 729 grams and 176 plants of marijuana), worth 
C$3.3 million. 
 
Meth 'Super-labs' also Raided in Ontario 
----------------------------------------- 
 
13. (SBU) A methamphetamine 'super-lab' bust on February 16, 2007 
resulted in the seizure of approximately 21 lbs of powdered 
methamphetamine, worth over C$950,000; 1.75 lbs of crystal 
methamphetamine worth C$148,000; and precursor chemicals.  The lab, 
one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever discovered in Ontario 
according to the OPP, was discovered in a rental cottage in 
Gooderham, Ontario, 200 km northeast of Toronto.  One Mississauga 
man was charged with the production of a controlled substance and 
possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. 
 
 
14. (SBU) Last June police seized 35 kg of methamphetamine at a 
well-hidden methamphetamine 'super-lab' near Lion's Head, 200 km 
northwest of Toronto.  Police also seized 25 kg of the precursor 
drug ephedrine and charged one Kitchener resident with possession 
for the purpose of trafficking and one Mexican citizen with making 
and possessing a controlled substance and conspiracy. According to 
the RCMP Drug Report for 2006, while methamphetamine lab activity 
continues to be most prevalent in the West, it is rapidly spreading 
across Canada.  The number of production sites discovered in Ontario 
ranks second only to British Columbia. 
 
Organized Crime Profiting From Illegal Drug Trade 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
15. (SBU) It seems clear that organized crime is involved in the 
drug trade.  An investigation of the outlaw biker organization 
Hell's Angels culminated in mass raids across the province on 
September 30, 2006.  Police seized C$2.9 million worth of drugs, 
including 50,000 ecstasy tablets, 13 kg of cocaine, and 2 kg of 
crystal methamphetamine.  According to the 2006 Organized Crime 
Report by the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, street gangs, 
80 of which are active in Toronto, mainly traffic the drugs that are 
provided by higher level criminal organizations, such as biker 
gangs. 
 
16. (SBU) COMMENT:  Police suspect organized criminal groups have 
 
TORONTO 00000090  003 OF 003 
 
 
become increasingly involved in both the large-scale production and 
distribution of synthetic drugs, notably ecstasy and cocaine.  The 
sophisticated drug producing capabilities of the raided sites and 
large volumes seized of precursor drugs, weapons, currency, boats, 
and vans point to the involvement of organized crime.  These 
criminal organizations are looking for efficiency; they are 
producing multi-kilogram quantities at well-hidden "super-labs," and 
using imported MDP2P to speed the production process.  Marijuana 
grow operations have also become increasingly well-hidden, setting 
up in suburban areas and keeping up the appearance of 
well-maintained family homes, often with young families living 
within these residences.  Law enforcement officials find detection 
of this kind of grow-op particularly difficult. 
 
17. (SBU) COMMENT (continued):  Senior provincial officials tell us 
they are challenged by the illegal drug activity but are committed 
to aggressively tackling the problem.  Toronto-resident U.S. law 
enforcement officials note that cooperation with provincial and 
federal law enforcement officials on this type of cross-border cases 
is excellent. 
 
NAY 

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