More than an estimated $55 million worth of methamphetamine and cocaine has been seized following a cross-border investigation by ALERT, RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Project Cobra is a nearly three-year organized crime investigation into transnational drug importation, drug trafficking, and money laundering.
As the result of enforcement initiatives on both sides of the border, 928 kilograms of methamphetamine and 6 kilograms of cocaine were intercepted. In addition, approximately $7 million worth of assets have been seized or placed under criminal restraint.
Project Cobra relied on the assistance of a number of police agencies and specialized units, including: Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Niagara Regional Police, Canada Revenue Agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and RCMP units in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Sask., and Osoyoos, B.C.
Police agencies collaborated to make numerous large-scale drug seizures during the course of Project Cobra. These were shipments destined for Alberta, and included the following seizures:
• 342 kg of meth in Wyoming;
• 308 kg of meth in Los Angeles;
• 137 kg of meth in Calgary;
• 84 kg of meth in Los Angeles;
• 50 kg of meth at Lake Koocanusa, B.C.;
• 7 kg of meth and 1 kg of cocaine in Calgary; and
• 5 kg of cocaine in North Battleford, Sask.
Nineteen firearms were also seized, which included handguns, rifles, submachine guns, and suppressors.
Seven million dollars’ worth of property, bank accounts, luxury vehicles, and other suspected proceeds of crime has been seized or placed under criminal restraint. This includes a $3.5 million home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, two Lamborghinis, a Porsche, classic cars, and $200,000 cash.
Project Cobra began in 2020 and a series of 11 coordinated search warrants were executed in December 2021. Homes, vehicles, businesses, and storage locations were searched in Calgary, Bedford, Nova Scotia, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and Leduc County, Alta.
Fifteen people and one business have been charged with 80 criminal offences ranging from participation in a criminal organization, to importation of a controlled substance, to laundering proceeds of crime, to drug trafficking.
The suspects were arrested and charged between May 2022 and August 2022:
• Elias Ade, 38-year -old from Calgary, charged with 12 offences;
• Abdul Akbar, 37-year-old from Calgary, charged with 8 offences;
• Tianna Bull, 25-year-old from North Battleford, charged with 1 offence;
• Lina El-Chammoury, 50-year-old from Calgary, charged with 2 offences;
• Russell Ens, 39-year-old from North Battleford, charged with 2 offences;
• Talal Fouani, 46-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
• Belal Fouani, 44-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
• Kari-Lynn Grant, 51-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
• Scott Hunt, 33-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
• Ricco King, 50-year-old from Bedford, N.S., charged with 5 offences;
• Jarett Mackenzie, 32-year-old from Calgary, charged with 6 offences;
• Jesse Marshall, 52-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
• Daniel Menzul, 32-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
• Sean Nesbitt, 44-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
• William Whiteford, 39-year-old from Leduc County, charged with 20 offences; and
• Fouani Equity Funds Ltd. charged with 1 offence.
Fouani Equity Funds Ltd. is a Calgary-based investment company and was charged with laundering proceeds for an organized crime group.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.