A major drug investigation in northeastern Ontario has resulted in 300 charges and 55 arrests, including nine in the Ottawa area.

“Our investigation led us to believe that the drugs coming from Ottawa were headed for northern communities,” says OPP Superintendent Chris Nicholas, “it’s a huge win for police today and the community to catch these drug dealers.”

Ontario Provincial Police worked with Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) to identify and dismantle drug distribution networks trafficking prescription medications and illicit drugs to communities in northeastern Ontario. Police say the lengthy six-month investigation focused on the Timmins and Chapleau area and James Bay coastal communities, noting these drugs typically sell at four times the street price compared to urban centres, like Ottawa, providing considerable profit incentive for criminals to exploit vulnerable residents in Aboriginal communities. Drugs seized in the investigation are worth $833,000 in Ottawa, but have a street value of $2,100,000 in northern Ontario.

“There is a relationship between mental health, addictions and drug use, so I think you can connect the dots on that,” says NAPS Chief Terry Armstrong from the news conference in Timmins, Ontario.

OPP made arrests at homes on Treaty Court and Pineglade Crescent in Ottawa on Thursday May 19, 2016.  In all nine people from Ottawa and Renfrew were arrested.  Police say two of the men arrested, Abel Solano-Santana, 37, and Adnan “Ace” Fazeli, 31, are well-known Ottawa gang members, with long criminal records.

Also arrested:

  • Michael Chenier, 31 of Orleans
  • Patrick Gallant, 26, of Ottawa
  • Christopher Hewitt, 30 of Ottawa
  • Holli Kasaboski , 29, of Renfrew
  • Michelle Mousseau , 23, of Ottawa

Two young offenders were also arrested.

During the investigation, dubbed “Project COAST”, 21 search warrants were executed, police seized:

  • 57,792 methamphetamine tablets,
  • 7,229 oxycodone pills,
  • 706 grams of cocaine,
  • 476.6 grams of marihuana, and
  • 154.25 fentanyl patches.

Police also seized more than 252-thousand dollars in Canadian currency, one shotgun and a bulletproof vest.

“Ottawa is where we’re making substantial seizures of fentanyl, the drug is having deadly affects in the country,” says Nicholas.

More than 300 people have died from Fentanyl overdoses since January in Canada. The ingredients to make the drug can be bought legally, through the mail, from China, making it easy for suppliers to manufacture, in sometimes deadly doses.   Former Ottawa Police Chief, now Senator Vern White, has tabled Bill S-225, expected to pass in June, to make it illegal to buy those ingredients from China, and other countries, online.

“It is a continuous battle, but I think we have to continue to fight and try and eliminate the ability for organized crime to be selling fentanyl and other drugs on our streets,” says White.