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Winnipeg Police Service

December 23, 2019

Winnipeg Police Service Media Release
For Immediate Release

Project Highland — Interprovincial Organized Crime Network Dismantled

In April of 2019, the Winnipeg Police Service began an investigation into a sophisticated interprovincial organized crime network.

The primary criminal activities of this organized crime group involved the transportation of multiple kilograms of cocaine, opioids, and significant amounts of illegal cannabis and tobacco from Southern Ontario into the City of Winnipeg. 

The investigation grew, leading to the Winnipeg Police Service Organized Crime Unit, in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Province of Manitoba Finance and Taxation, to initiate Project Highland.

On December 18, 2019, eight search warrants were simultaneously executed in the City of Winnipeg, rural Manitoba, and the Province of Ontario. 

As a result of the search warrants, ten adults were arrested and charged with 34 criminal code offences related to conspiracy and trafficking of a controlled substance,  proceeds of crime, unlawful possession of cannabis, posses not Manitoba marked Tobacco.

The following items were seized:

  • Approximately $120,000.00 cash
  • 13 kilograms of cocaine
    • Street value of $1.3 million
    • Bulk value of $800,000.00
  • 45 lbs of illegal cannabis
    • Bulk value of $ 126,000
    • Street value of $ 190,680
  • 21 bags of cannabis edibles - gummies
    • Street value of $1,050
  • 246 cases of cigarettes
    • 2.46 million individual cigarettes
    • Lost tax value of $739,326
    • Potential triple tax penalty $2,217,978
    • Street value of $492,884
    • Bulk value of $147,600
  • 824 alprazolam (xanax) bars
    • Street value of $4,120
  • 362 grams of ecstasy (MDMA)
    • Street value of $14,480
  • 370 grams of psilocybin (mushrooms)
    • Street value of $7,400
  • 185 grams benzocaine (cutting agent)
    • Street value of $1,320
  • Three digital money counters
  • Scales, score sheets, drug packaging material, and vacuum sealing equipment
  • Cannabis extraction press
  • 17 mobile communication devices
  • 400 rounds of 22 caliber ammunition
  • 57 rounds of 726 caliber ammunition
  • 2017 Jaguar FPACE R-Sport 35T (approx. value $50,000)
  • 2015 Lexus NX 200T (approx.. value $30,000)
  • 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS (approx. value $10,000)
  • 2019 Ford F150 (approx. value $45,000)
  • 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 with hidden compartment (approx. value $25,000)
  • 2007 Great 741 30 ft. enclosed trailer (approx. value $15,000)

Stephen PIERPOINT, 32 years, of Aurora, Ontario has been charged with:

  • Possess for the purpose of trafficking – cocaine
  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000
  • Conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance – cocaine

Curtis HIBBERT, 34 years, of Winnipeg, has been charged with:

  • Conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance – cocaine
  • Conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance – Oxycodone
  • Conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance – Xanax
  • Possess for the purpose of trafficking – Oxycodone
  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000
  • Unlawful possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to section 9(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possess for the purpose of sale, a tobacco product that is not stamped, contrary to section 121.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Samantha GUNN, 25 years, of Winnipeg, has been charged with:

  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000
  • Unlawful possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to section 9(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possess for the purpose of sale, a tobacco product that is not stamped, contrary to section 121.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Darryan EDWARDS, 24 years, of Winnipeg, has  been charged with:

  • Possess for the purpose of trafficking – cocaine
  • Possess proceeds of crime under $5000

Safa ALLEN, 37 years, of Winnipeg, has been charged with:
Charges:
Possess for the purpose of trafficking – cocaine
Possess proceeds of crime under $5000
Possess ammunition contrary to an order, section 117.01
Possess prohibited weapon

Laura LIPPAI 37 years, of Winnipeg, has been charged with:

  • Possess for the purpose of trafficking – cocaine
  • Possess proceeds of crime under $5000
  • Possess prohibited weapon

Jeremy RITCHOT, 34 years, of the RM of Tache, Manitoba, has been charged with:

  • Conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance – Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Trafficking in a controlled substance – Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Psilocybin
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000
  • Obtain cannabis by any method or process including by manufacturing, by synthesis or by using any means or altering the chemical or physical properties of cannabis, contrary to section 12.1 (a) of the Cannabis Act
  • Possess for the purpose of sale, a tobacco product that is not stamped, contrary to section 121.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada
  • Unlawful possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to section 9(2) of the Cannabis Act X 2

Rajvathanan RAJASEKARAN, 34 years, of Calgary, Alberta, has been charged with:

  • Unlawful possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to section 9(2) of the Cannabis Act
  • Transport a tobacco product that was not excise stamped contrary to section 121.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada
  • Posses not Manitoba marked Tobacco contrary to Section 80(2)(a) of the Taxation and Miscellaneous Taxes Act of Manitoba

Sinthusan SHANMUGANATHAN, 31 years, of Whitby, Ontario, has been charged with:

  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Cocaine
  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000

Vinothan UTHAYAKUMAR, 36 years of Stouffville, Ontario, has been charged with:

  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Cocaine
  • Possess proceeds of crime over $5000

The result of this complex and highly sophisticated organized crime investigation demonstrates our ability as law enforcement and prosecutions to work collectively to detect, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations through targeted, proactive intelligence-led enforcement. The success of this investigation should be a reminder to those who wish to participate in organized crime that justice shall be served.

The success we share today would not be made possible without the assistance from the  following organizations:

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)

  • Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau - Central
  • Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – Community Street Crime Unit
  • Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – North East and North West Division
  • Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – Thunder Bay

OPP Dryden
Toronto Pearson Airport Intelligence
Canadian Border Services Agency
OPP Provincial Operational Intelligence Bureau
Province of Ontario Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team
OPP Aurora Detachment
Ontario Ministry of Finance
Province of Manitoba Finance and Taxation
Public Prosecution Service of Canada
Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
RCMP Manitoba Emergency Response Team
Winnipeg Police Service

  • Organized Crime Unit
  • Guns and Gangs Unit
  • Drug Enforcement Unit
  • Tactical Support Unit
  • Canine Unit
  • Uniform Operations
  • Crime Analysis
  • Incident Command

Drug Offence – Arrest: R19-82695

During the evening of December 22, 2019, members of the Guns & Gangs Unit, with the assistance of the Tactical Support Team and the North District Community Support Unit, executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrant at a suite of a residential building in the 300 block of Qu'Appelle Avenue.

A male suspect fled from the suite and attempted to hide on a roof, but was taken into custody. The investigation has led to the seizure of numerous items, including the following:

- A loaded .22 calibre handgun
- Two mobile phones
- $690 in Canadian currency
- A working scale
- Packaging materials
- Approximately 2.17 grams of cocaine (estimated street value of $220)
- Approximately 2.37 grams crack cocaine (estimated street value of $360)

Abdelgadr Said Omer, a 30-year-old male of Winnipeg, has been charged with:

- Possession of a Scheduled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking – Cocaine
- Possession of Proceeds of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000
- Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
- Possession of a Loaded Prohibited or Restricted Firearm
- Possession of a Firearm Knowing Serial Number has been Tampered With
- Store Firearm or Restricted Weapon Contrary to Regulations

He was detained in custody.


Last Update: December 23, 2019

Constable Rob Carver, Public Information Officer
Constable Jay Murray, Public Information Officer
Constable Tammy Skrabek, Public Information Officer

Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs

Office: 204-986-3061
E-mail: WPS-PIO@winnipeg.ca


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