A years-long police investigation that began in Manitoba led to the arrest of 22 people, including a full member of the Hells Angels, who the RCMP believe were working for an international drug and arms smuggling operation .
The investigation, dubbed Project Divergent, was launched in 2018 after a Manitoba RCMP criminal analyst reported certain trends in the importation of drugs into Canada, police said at a news conference in Winnipeg. Tuesday morning.
Insp. Grant Stephen, who heads the RCMP’s Serious and Organized Crime Section, said police soon realized they were engaged in a complex operation involving massive sales of cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates ( particularly fentanyl) and firearms and ammunition.
A connection to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang has also been discovered, Stephen said at the press conference.
Several police agencies from Canada and around the world participated in the investigation, including the Colombian National Police, the Hellenic Police in Greece and the United States Homeland Security Investigations in Grand Forks, ND.
Along with the 22 arrests, police said they also seized more than $70 million worth of illicit drugs, including 110 kilograms of cocaine (with an estimated street value of $11 million), 41.4 kilograms of methamphetamine (worth market value estimated at $8 million) and three kilograms of fentanyl (market value estimated at $50 million).
“I’m providing this context not to wow you with the seizure, but to show you how many people could have been affected by this amount of illicit proceeds,” Stephen said.
Police also recovered 14 handguns and what they described as five assault weapons.
Two individuals are still at large and wanted by the police as part of the investigation:
- Kieffer Michael Kramar, 30, is from Winnipeg, but police believe he could be anywhere in Canada.
- Denis Ivziku, 24, is from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Police believe he is still in that area.