In a first of its kind investigation in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) disrupted an international drug trafficker who was using the dark-web, to traffic drugs across Canada and the United States.
Operation Hackstone began in February 2023, after Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC received information from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), of a Nova-Scotia-based drug trafficker exporting opioid drugs to the United States and trafficking domestically throughout Canada. The suspect was advertising the sale of illegal opioids through online darknet websites and receiving payment by way of cryptocurrency.
During the investigation, a number of investigative techniques were utilized including obtaining judicial authorizations, physical surveillance and an undercover operation. RCMP investigators determined that the drug trafficker was based in Halifax and that he was sending packages that contained drugs through the mail, both nationally across Canada and, internationally to the United States. A number of packages were intercepted by law enforcement officials in Canada and the United States.
On August 30, Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC arrested 37-year-old John Nicholas Allen-Simec, of Halifax, for offences relating to the trafficking of drugs nationally across Canada and for the exportation of drugs to the United States. Investigators executed search warrants, relating to the investigation, in various locations across the Halifax Regional Municipality, resulting in the seizure of a 2021 Toyota Rav4, hydromorphone, Dexedrine, ketamine, MDMA, Xanax and other prescription medications, receipts, shipping labels, packaging and electronic devices.
RCMP investigators were also able to locate, extract, and seize crypto-wallets associated to Allen-Simec along with obtaining data on Allen-Simec’s electronic devices that is consistent with drug trafficking.
Allen-Simec has been charged with the following offences:
- Trafficking a Controlled Substance – Hydromorphone (three counts);
- Trafficking a Controlled Substance – Amphetamine;
- Exporting a Controlled Substance from Canada – Hydromorphone (five counts);
- Exporting a Controlled Substance from Canada – Amphetamine;
- Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking (two counts);
- Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Exporting (two counts)
Allen-Simec was released on conditions and will appear in Halifax Provincial Court on November 6, 2023
In addition to HSI, the investigation was assisted by Quebec RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, Ontario RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, Nova Scotia RCMP Digital Forensic Services, Nova Scotia RCMP Federal Support Services and the National RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Team.
“International organized crime is taking on more and more forms, due to its nimbleness and ability to exploit new technology. In cooperation with the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (Canada, U.K., New Zealand, Australia and U.S.A.) the RCMP Federal Police are developing counter measures that enable the RCMP to address the cyber threats and exploitative efforts of these types of criminals, who prey upon emerging and existing vulnerabilities.” says Superintendent Jason Popik, Federal Policing Criminal Operations Officer with the Nova Scotia RCMP. “As a result of this investigation, named Operation Hackstone, the Nova Scotia Federal RCMP were able to ensure fewer dangerous drugs will reach the streets of North America, while supporting our partner law enforcement investigators with Homeland Security Investigations in the United States and Canada”
“Criminal actors are relentless in their attempts to exploit the anonymity of the Dark Web to traffic illicit drugs into our communities. The global nature of cyber-enabled crime commands strong partnerships between Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and our international law enforcement partners. Operation Hackstone is an excellent example of HSI’s close partnership with Nova Scotia RCMP and the results that can be accomplished through international unified efforts.” says Magdalena Sigur, Homeland Security Investigations Attaché.