|Ecstasy pills. (QMI Agency files)
VANCOUVER - Five men have been charged following an investigation into international drug trafficking after large amounts of cocaine and ecstasy were seized in the past four years.
In total, 228 kilograms of cocaine, 117,000 ecstasy pills and four firearms were snagged in the investigation that spanned B.C., California, Mexico and Peru.
“The cocaine alone represents a street value of over $17 million,” Sgt. Ghalib Bhayani said in a statement.
Jeremy Stark, Christopher Mehan, Matthew Higgins, Hernan Veloso and Robert Arthur are each in courts facing drug-related charges. The former four are expected in Surrey, B.C., court Sept. 12.
Police in B.C. first caught wind of the case in 2008 on a tip from U.S. authorities that a “sophisticated system of encrypted smartphones” was being used to organize these exchanges.
In December 2008, two shipments, containing more than 218 kilograms of cocaine, were seized at the Pacific Border Crossing. A further 10 kilograms were seized at a Burnaby residence in May 2009.
Police believe the cocaine was imported into Canada, while ecstasy — like the pills seized — was exported.