BPS help to smash international drugs ring
Bermuda’s police helped to smash an alleged team of international drug smugglers that targeted Bermuda, it was revealed yesterday.
Island officers tipped off Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police after fentanyl — a synthetic drug similar to morphine but stronger — was imported into the island from Canada two years ago.
The find led to an 18-month operation in and around Toronto, which resulted in the uncovering of alleged drugs and crime networks in Canada with links to the Caribbean and Central America and eight arrests for conspiracy, drug trafficking and firearms offences.
Sean Field-Lament, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police, said: “Our guys did a really good job and the public can be proud of the job they did.
“We have a good international reputation and this will only enhance that reputation.
“Right from the outset, I said there was more to this than just Bermuda and we reached out to our partners.”
Mr Field-Lament added: “Hopefully, it sends a message to people overseas and to people on the island who are considering getting engaged or are engaged in the drugs trade. It’s not just Bermuda that’s trying to catch you.”
He was speaking after the elite Royal Canadian Mounted Police staged raids across the Toronto area after they co-operated with island police from the Organised and Economic Crime Department.
A raid on a safe house found a dozen handguns, ammunition and a grenade, as well as fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. RCMP officers also found counterfeit US currency and C$29,000 (about $22,000) in cash.
Mr Field-Lament said: “This is a very significant breakthrough for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
He added that Bermuda had not seen the explosion in fentanyl use seen in North America.
However, he said: “Their problems mirror our problems — they are not only seizing drugs, they’re seizing guns and ammunition and even a hand grenade.”
Canadian Jacqueline Robinson was jailed for seven years last July, after admitting swallowing 45 pellets of fentanyl before travelling from Toronto to Bermuda in December 2016.
The drugs had a street value of nearly $800,000. Two men were found not guilty of related charges.
Mr Field-Lament said: “The fact of the matter is they thought these guys went to Bermuda and got caught and that they’d never hear any more about it — that was not the case.
“Bermuda is open for business — but not that kind of business and we’re happy to assist overseas law enforcement agencies. In the long run, it makes our island safer.”
A spokeswoman for the RCMP said: “The weapons and explosives stashed in the safe house validate our concerns about the scale and reach of this organisation.
“The accused had a wide array of criminal enterprises that he operated, everything from counterfeit currency to weapons and opioid trafficking.”
The Canadian end of the investigation was headed by RCMP Superintendent Chris Leather, great-nephew of Sir Edwin Leather, who was Governor of Bermuda between 1977 and 1980.
An RCMP statement confirmed: “The 18-month joint investigation stems from the arrest of two Canadian nationals in Bermuda for importing fentanyl into Bermuda from Canada.
Robert Collins, 37, Stephanie Legge, 31, Faruk Sebastian Portobanco, 39, Jean Simmons, 43, Lemar Patrick Burke, 26, Brian Luckman, 49, Craig Lawrence, 37, and Desmond Kerr, 47, all from Ontario, were arrested and charged in connection with the alleged offences.
Inspector Donna Streeter, the officer in charge at the RCMP’s Toronto North Serious and Organised Crime Team, said: “Serious and organised crime in Canada is a multifaceted and borderless problem impacting all Canadians, directly or indirectly.
“Through a variety of specialised programmes and teams, the RCMP combats serious and organised crime by implementing intelligence-led police operations with the collaboration of domestic and international partners.”
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