WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Police Service seized a total of $ 000. 5 million in assets, including drugs, Bitcoin and cars, during a months-long investigation into a multi-provincial drug network between British Columbia and Manitoba.
Officers with the Winnipeg Police Service’s Organized Crime Unit, with the help of a number of other police units, started its investigation, dubbed ‘Project Gold Dust,’ back in May 2020.
During this investigation, officers said they identified multiple members of a local group of traffickers from a drug network known as ‘The Company.’
The investigation then grew into a joint forces operation with the E-Division RCMP – Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit, located in British Columbia.
Officers allege the drug network imported multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into Winnipeg and distributed the drugs through a “sophisticated operating network of high / mi d-level operators and local couriers. ”
Police said the drug network’s primary criminal activities entailed transporting cocaine from British Columbia into Winnipeg for distribution, as well as collecting large sums of cash proceeds to give back to British Columbia as payment for the drugs.
(Cash and firearms seized as part of Project Gold Dust are on display on Feb , 2021. CTV News Photo Ken Gabel)
On Feb. , Police officers executed multiple search warrants in both Winnipeg and British Columbia.
Police executed Winnipeg, nine vehicle search warrants in Winnipeg, one search warrant in Surrey, BC, one search warrant in Vancouver, and two vehicle search warrants in Vancouver.
This resulted in people from Winnipeg and British Columbia being charged with drug -related offenses and the seizure of millions in goods.
Police have charged the following people:
- Thuy Bich Ly, 35, from Winnipeg;
- Rogelio Saavedra Delacruz, 32, from Winnipeg;
- Sherwin Dimaapi, f rom Winnipeg;
- Jasmine Rose Espiritu, 23, from Winnipeg;
- Joshua David Espiritu, s
- Wilfred Gerein, 63, from Surrey, BC;
- Louie Lorenzo, 26, from Winnipeg;
- Khanh Nguyen, 25, from Winnipeg; and
Jamie Graida-Lumarque, s Johnny Lam, 33, from Vancouver;
Police said two other men and one woman from Winnipeg were arrested but not charged at this time.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and other arrests and charges are still pending.
(Officers conduct a search at a home on Haverhill Crescent on Feb , CTV News Photo Ken Gabel).
During these searches, police seized the following items in Winnipeg:
Police also seized a number of vehicles with a total value of $ 144, , as well as residential and commercial properties worth $ 4, 539, S.Bree British Columbia, officers , 000 in cash, 23 grams of cocaine valued at $ 2, 230, vehicles with a combined value of $ 41, 500, and two residential properties valued at $ 3, 539, It the first-ever seizure of Bitcoin in a Winnipeg police investigation, according to Insp. Max Waddell
None of the charges against the 000 have been proven in court.
Some locations in Winnipeg that were searched include Melrose Avenue East and Haverhill Crescent.