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Two arrested as Ottawa police seize 40 kg of cocaine, 4 kg of crack in major drug bust

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Ottawa police say two people have been arrested after a seizure of more than 40 kilograms of cocaine and four kilograms of crack cocaine in the nation's capital.

The Ottawa Police Service is announcing the results of what it is calling "Operation Top Shelf", a 10-month investigation described as the "one of the largest drug seizure in OPS history."

In addition to the large quantity of drugs, police also seized approximately $100,000 in cash.

Police Chief Eric Stubbs called the seizure of drugs significant. 

"The wholesale value of these drugs is approximately $1.5 million and the street value is approximately $4.5 million," he said.

Police told CTV News Ottawa this announcement is separate from a major cocaine trafficking bust announced by the RCMP on Tuesday.

"That is two separate drug organizations that have been disrupted in the last week," Stubbs said.

Supt. Jamie Dunlop told reporters that a lot of work went into identifying the individuals who were arrested.

Che Esprit, 35, of Toronto, and Adrian Esqualit-Gonzalez, 33, of Ottawa, are in custody. They are each facing several drug charges. One of the men was arrested on Miwate Private in Ottawa and the other was arrested in Belleville, en route to Toronto.

"These aren't somebody we're coming across on a daily basis, the street level crimes and whatnot," Dunlop said. "When you're dealing with this type of level of organization and crime, a lot of people are hidden from police for a long time. The amount of work that goes into identifying people at the top of organizations contributing this level of menace to a city, it takes a lot of work."

Dunlop said the investigation began in February.

"What we are finding is that cocaine, like opioids, is getting cut with other powerful pharmaceutical-type drugs in order to provide more of a kick to the customer, more addiction qualities to the customer with the cocaine itself and they are able to spread it and therefore make more money," he said.

"Cocaine remains by far the number one drug in the city of Ottawa probably in the province of Ontario and across Canada."

The drugs seized in Ottawa could have been part of a larger network across Canada, Dunlop said.

"These drugs were seized in Ottawa. Doesn't mean all of it is going to be used here... The networks are huge. The majority of the drugs we seized are likely for Ottawa but we're watching this stuff travel, particularly up north, Thunder Bay, things of that nature."

Stubbs said additional arrests and charges are anticipated.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy.

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