On August 10, after a 16-month investigation led by the Nova Scotia RCMP’s Federal Policing section, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Buffalo, New York, arrested 37-year-old Ahmed El Kady in possession of 433 kilograms of cocaine destined for Canada. El Kady, who’s from Hamilton, Ontario, has ties to Nova Scotia’s drug trade.
“Working with the RCMP’s Federal Policing in Ontario, and partners across the country and in the USA, we disrupted a criminal network operating across the Canada-USA border and into our province,” says Superintendent Jason Popik, Federal Policing Criminal Operations Officer with the Nova Scotia RCMP. “As a result of this investigation, named Operation Heinze, fewer dangerous drugs will reach the streets of Atlantic Canada.”
American officials believe the investigation led to the largest cocaine bust ever seen in western New York state.
“This investigation and extraordinary seizure of cocaine disrupted a significant transnational criminal organization and drug pipeline into Nova Scotia,” says Matthew Scarpino, HSI Buffalo Special Agent in Charge. “HSI will continue to partner with the RCMP, CBSA, and other Canadian law enforcement agencies, to identify and dismantle criminal organizations operating throughout North America and abroad that exploit our shared border for illicit gain.”
RCMP’s Federal Policing in Ontario conducted subsequent searches associated to El Kady in the Hamilton and Niagara regions of Ontario, resulting in the seizure of additional evidence consistent with drug trafficking and money laundering.
In spring 2022, officers with the Nova Scotia RCMP’s Federal Policing unit identified a criminal group involving El Kady that was importing drugs into Canada from the United States. The network, which was considered to be one of the more sophisticated drug trafficking networks within Atlantic Canada, was facilitating the movement of imported cocaine throughout Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
In May, Nova Scotia RCMP officers conducted a traffic stop near the Cobequid Pass and intercepted 40 kilograms of cocaine; the cocaine was on its way to the network’s dealers in Halifax. And on September 1, RCMP officers from Federal Policing in Nova Scotia executed multiple search warrants across the Halifax Regional Municipality. The searches resulted in the arrest of four people, who will face multiple drug related charges. The charges include, but are not limited to:
- Participation in Activities of Criminal Organization
- Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) for the Purpose of Trafficking
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamines) for the Purpose of Trafficking
- Possess, produce, sell, import or transport anything intending that it will be used to produce a controlled substance or traffic in a controlled substance
- Possession of Cannabis for the Purpose of Selling
- Possession of Property Obtained by Crime
- Laundering Proceeds of Crime
Investigators seized four kilograms of cocaine, approximately $170,000 in cash, an estimated $120,000 in silver bars, multiple electronic devices, and six vehicles.
With the exception of El Kady, who remains in US custody, all arrested parties have since been released and will appear in court at a later date.
In addition to HSI, several groups assisted the RCMP with the investigation. Partnering organizations include Canada Border Services Agency in Nova Scotia, Fredericton Police Force, Public Services and Procurement Canada Forensic Accounting Management Group, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario, and Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia.
“As crime becomes increasingly borderless, it has never been more important for international police partners to work together,” says Chief Superintendent Mathieu Bertrand, Director General of Federal Policing Criminal Operations Serious and Organized Crime and Border Integrity. “It is collaborative efforts like Operation Heinze that ultimately keep both countries safe from the harmful effects of illegal drugs.”