Seven people charged in massive gun/drug bust; Uzi, AK-47 among guns seized
Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017 4:24PM EST Last Updated Wednesday, November 8, 2017 6:59PM EST
OPP have revealed more information about a huge illegal gun and drug bust in the National Capital Region, known as “Project Landslide.”
The investigation began in May, when members of the OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau teamed up with Ottawa Police and Gatineau Police to investigate what they called “high-level drug and firearms traffickers.”
On Monday, police searched homes in Ottawa, Gatineau, and Clarence-Rockland and arrested seven people.
Seized in the raids were: an AK-47 and an AR-15 with high capacity magazines; an SKS semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet; an Uzi submachine gun; six handguns; and ammunition for each. The guns are a mix of non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited firearms in Canada.
Knives, brass knuckles, bear spray, and a club were also on display among the seized weapons.
Also seized was: $1.7 million in cocaine, methamphetamine pills, and marijuana; and $150,000 cash.
The list of charges against the seven suspects is extensive.
Deepan Budlakoti, 28, of Ottawa; Marco Dubien, 27, of Gatineau; Youssef Jouma, 38, of Clarence-Rockland; Nicklas Martin, 23, of Clarence-Rockland; Matt Mercier, 29, of Clarence-Rockland; Leopold Mercier, 64, of Clarence-Rockland; and Marianne Mercier, 62, of Clarence Rockland, have all been charged.
Principal among them is Budlakoti, who is facing a total of 83 criminal counts, including firearms trafficking, possession of the proceeds of crime, and breach of a firearms prohibition order. Budlakoti has been fighting a deportation order to India after being convicted in 2010 of gun trafficking charges. Budlakoti is known as the “Stateless Man” because he does not have Canadian citizenship, but neither does he possess Indian citizenship. His parents were employees at the Indian High Commission when he was born in Ottawa in 1989. Children born in Canada to diplomatic staff are not granted automatic Canadian citizenship.
The Federal Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 that Budlakoti is not “stateless” under international law, as he could “take steps to apply for citizenship in India and in Canada.” In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his appeal.
Among the other suspects:
- Dubien is facing 37 counts, including firearms trafficking and drug trafficking;
- Jouma is facing two counts of possession of the proceeds of crime, and two counts of marijuana possession for the purpose of trafficking;
- Martin is facing three counts of possession of property obtained by crime and three counts of possession of cocaine and methamphetamines for the purposes of trafficking;
- Matt Mercier is facing “multiple counts” of trafficking methamphetamines and cocaine and one count each of possession of the proceeds of crime and breach of recognizance;
- Matt and Leopold Mercier are facing seven joint charges including conspiracy to traffic methamphetamines and cocaine and possession of property obtained by crime;
- Leopold and Marianne Mercier are facing 15 joint charges of unlawful possession of handguns and 15 counts of possession of the proceeds of crime;
- And Matt, Marianne, and Leopold Mercier are facing one joint charge of trafficking methamphetamines.
Police say several of the accused have already appeared before the Ontario Court of Justice while others remain in custody.
In a statement, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau Chief Superintendent John Sullivan said, "Removing these guns and drugs from our communities is a victory for the safety of our citizens. Regardless of jurisdiction, the OPP and our law enforcement partners will continue to identify and aggressively pursue those individuals who continue to threaten the safety and security of people in Ontario and Quebec."