January 13, 2022 Media Release
In May of 2021, the Winnipeg Police Service Organized Crime Unit began the initial stages of an investigation into firearms trafficking. The project, dubbed Operation Phoenix, progressed throughout the summer of 2021, where investigators learned that large amounts of drugs were also being trafficked by the network. This led to the WPS partnering with The Edmonton Police Service Gang Enforcement Unit, the Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau and the RCMP Organized Crime Unit. Additional assistance was provided by ATF, Canada Border Services and the Correctional Services of Canada, and FINTRAC.
Twelve people were arrested at various locations, including Winnipeg, Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Two of those arrested face charges related to smuggling large quantities of drugs and contraband into Stony Mountain Penitentiary and Collins Bay Institution through the use of drones. The drugs trafficked included: methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, marihuana and contraband. The institutional value of the drugs and contraband seized at Stony Mountain Penitentiary is estimated at $700,000.
In total, sixteen search warrants were executed: four in Winnipeg, three in Anola, Manitoba, two at Stony Mountain Penitentiary, four in Alberta, and three in the GTA. Seizures included:
- Roughly 40 firearms
- 30 kilograms of methamphetamine ($2.6 million ESV)
- 6 kilograms of fentanyl ($2.75 million ESV)
- 15 kilograms of cocaine ($1.6 million ESV)
- 100 kilograms of marihuana ($500,000 ESV)
- smaller amounts of heroin, ecstasy, and psilocybin ($330,000 ESV)
- 1 kg of cutting agent ($1,200)
- 11 vehicles, 4 snowmobiles, 3 trailers, Bobcat ($381,000)
Numerous bank accounts were also frozen.
Of the twelve suspects arrested, six have been charged and can be named at this time. Arrests were made in the first two weeks of December, 2021.
Matthew Cody KNYSH, 30, of Winnipeg, has been charged with 20 separate firearms offences.
Mitchell Steven Lee BRUNEAU, 40, of Anola, MB., has been charged with six firearms-related offences and four counts of conspiracy.
Jason Dean BIGL, 20, of Winnipeg, has been charged with possessing and trafficking in firearms and four counts of conspiracy.
Stacy DeSANTIS, 25, has been charged with trafficking (controlled substance) and conspiracy.
Mario GROSSO, 36, of Heritage Pointe, AB., has been charged with trafficking (controlled substance), and conspiracy.
Joseph Louis SAVINO, 35, of Winnipeg, has been charged with six firearms-related offences and trafficking (controlled substance).
All of the accused have been detained in custody.
As previously released:
On December 31, 2021, at 2:28 a.m., members of the Winnipeg Police Service responded to a report of a person who had been seriously injured at a residence in the 300 block of Alexander Avenue. Upon arrival, officers located a deceased adult male inside the house.
The deceased was identified as Robert Randall ANDERSON, 43, of Winnipeg. The Homicide Unit continued the investigation and identified a suspect, James HOULE, in connection to this homicide.
Investigators determined the suspect HOULE and the deceased ANDERSON were known acquaintances. While armed with a firearm, HOULE attended a residence in the 300 block of Alexander Avenue and confronted ANDERSON. An altercation occurred where ANDERSON was shot and killed, and HOULE fled the area.
On January 12, 2022, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the Homicide Unit, with the assistance of the Tactical Support Team and General Patrol officers, attended a residence in the 500 block of Manitoba Avenue. HOULE was believed to be inside and considered armed and dangerous.
The Tactical Support Team established safe containment around the residence. The accused remained inside, and the situation escalated into an armed and barricaded event. Over the next few hours, support units continued to communicate and provide de-escalation strategies to encourage a safe resolution.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., HOULE peacefully surrendered and exited the residence. He was taken into custody and turned over to the Homicide Unit.
James Glen HOULE, 32, of Winnipeg, was charged with:
- Second Degree Murder
- Possession of a Firearm, Restricted/Prohibited Weapon or Ammunition Contrary to Prohibition Order x 2
He was detained in custody.
On January 12, 2022, members of the Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit arrested Jamie Rae SHORTING, 24, of Winnipeg, for the murder of Tyler YAREMA, who was shot and killed on November 29, 2021.
SHORTING was charged with Second Degree Murder and was detained in custody.
The Homicide Unit seeks the public’s assistance to locate three outstanding suspects with warrants for Second Degree Murder.
These suspects are not to be approached. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to contact Homicide investigators at 204-986-6508, Crime Stoppers at 204-786 TIPS (8477), or 911.
Bryce Alexander KEATING, 23
Height: 5’9”, Weight: 181lbs
Jake Steven DUCHARME, 32
Height: 6’1”, Weight: 166lbs
Jamie Lee RUDOLPH, 33
(AKA: Jamie Lee KNIGHT)
Height: 6’0”, Weight: 211lbs
As previously released:
On November 29, 2021, at approximately 5:30 a.m., Winnipeg Police General Patrol officers responded to a report of gunshots at a single-family residence in the 200 block of Forrester Avenue. Officers located an adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. Police administered emergency medical care until EMS arrived and transported the victim to a hospital in critical condition.
The victim has since succumbed to his injuries. He has been identified as Tyler Patrick YAREMA, 42, of Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit continues the investigation into this incident. Anyone with information is asked to call 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
On January 12, 2022, at approximately 11:30 p.m., members of the Guns & Gangs Unit observed two males exit a taxi in the area of Isabel Street and William Avenue. One of the males was sporting a heavy looking duffle bag with a visible butt end of a firearm sticking out. As police neared the individuals they took off running and the bag was discarded. Officers chased after the suspects for a short distance, apprehending one of the males.
Four firearms, along with ammunition were seized:
- .22 calibre rifle
- 12 guage shotgun
- an improvised firing device
David Nelson FRIESEN, 38, of Winnipeg was charged with 23 firearms-related offences and on the strength of a warrant for Failing to Comply with Release Order conditions.
He was detained in custody.
Constable Jay Murray, Public Information Officer
Constable Dani McKinnon, Public Information Officer
Constable Claude Chancy, Public Information Officer
Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs