By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A joint investigation with the RCMP, Durham Regional Police and other organizations has resulted in a number of arrests and the disruption of a fentanyl trafficking network that was moving the dangerous drug from Canada into Bermuda.
According to a release from the RCMP, the 18-month investigation stemmed from the arrest of two Canadian nationals in Bermuda who were importing fentanyl from Canada. Following a further investigation from Canadian police forces, it uncovered several criminal networks involved in drug trafficking throughout the GTA, and resulted in the seizure of quantities of fentanyl, methamphetmine, cocaine, marijuana, counterfeit U.S. currency, 12 hand guns and ammunition, a hand grenade and approximately $29,000 in Canadian currency.
The coordinated effort between the RCMP and the DRPS led to the arrest of a number of individuals, including Robert Collins, 37, of Bowmanville, Stephanie Legge, 31 and Jean Simmons, 43 of Mississauga, Frank Sebastian Portobanco, 39, of Toronto, Lemar Patrick Burke, 26, of Pickering, and Brian Luckman, 49, of Brampton, all of whom face a slew of drug and trafficking related charges.
Also charged as part of the investigation are Craig Lawrence, 37 of Markham, who faces a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and Desmond Kerr, 47, of Brampton who faces drug charges and a charge of criminal negligence.
“Serious and organized crime in Canada is a multi-faceted and borderless problem impacting all Canadians directly or indirectly,” said Insp. Donna Streeter, the officer in charge with the Toronto North Serious and Organized Crime Team. “Through a variety of specialized programs and teams, the RCMP combats serious and organized crime by implementing intelligence-led police operations with collaboration of domestic and international partners.”
Also assisting in the investigation along with the RCMP and DRPS were the Canadian Border Service Agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and other foreign police agencies.
“We work with police services every day. We’re actually in several formal partnerships with police services on provincial bodies and so it’s quite common in the policing world for police services to be working together on files,” says Dave Selby a spokesperson with DRPS.
“It’s really important to have these really strong, pre-existing relationships because then when you’re starting to work together on a project you already know the players.”
Along with that, Durham continues to maintain a number of relationships with police agencies across the GTA.
“When you’re dealing with criminals they don’t care about municipal boundaries. We could be looking at someone is in Markham, but he may be doing things in Pickering, and if he’s crossing the border then we need to get involved with the CBSA and we have to get involved with the RCMP.”