By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A Manitoba government investigator faces bribery and conspiracy charges in a drug trafficking probe that led to the arrests of more than 20 people in the province and Ontario, RCMP say.
The investigation resulted in the seizure of $2.5 million worth of drugs including cocaine, carfentanil and crystal methamphetamine, police said Tuesday, as well as firearms, vehicles and illegal cigarettes. The contraband cigarettes would have yielded Manitoba $1.47 million in tax revenue.
RCMP allege that Hue Ha, 36, was the lead orchestrator of the trafficking operation. Investigators allege Ha or a designate would travel to Ontario to pick up drugs and unstamped cigarettes to bring them back to Manitoba. He was arrested and faces numerous charges from conspiracy to trafficking.
“Project Dawgpound yielded fantastic results and got a kilo-level trafficker and his network off the streets,” Insp. Grant Stephen, with Manitoba RCMP said at a news conference Tuesday.
“We will continue to enforce against the illegal drug trade and disrupt networks that often lead to or are connected with organized crime in the interest of creating a safer Manitoba and a safer Canada.”
RCMP said officers determined police intelligence was being leaked and narrowed it down to a government investigator.
Among those charged was a Manitoba Finance Special Investigations Unit employee.
Donavon Sired, 50, has been charged with bribery of officers, breach of trust by a public officer and conspiracy to evade payment.
“As we were following this trail and getting a better idea of what the network looked like, we became aware that targets of our investigation had information regarding police enforcement plans,” Stephen said.
A guard with the Corps of Commissionaires, a national not-for-profit security company, also faces charges. The guard worked at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg.
Stephen said the guard is accused of storing and trafficking drugs for the criminal organization while they were at work.
Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen called the allegations concerning.
“The clear message here is, regardless of who you are or where you work, if you are helping individuals in any way in the distribution or manufacturing of drugs, there are consequences for that,” he said.
An unnamed spokesman for the province would not comment on whether Sired is still employed, how long he has worked with the department or whether the provincial government was doing its own investigation.