A year-long Northwest Territories RCMP investigation into Yellowknife’s cocaine trade has resulted in charges against 15 people, police said on Monday.
The hauntingly named Project Gloomiest netted more than 1,425 grams of cocaine and two firearms during its course, according to RCMP.
Project Gloomiest began after the territory’s police received a tip from Canada’s financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC, about “suspicious movements of money” linked to the NWT’s drug trade.
At the centre of the investigation: Toufic Chamas, a man whose name may be familiar to readers.
Not only was Chamas earlier arrested in relation to an alleged gun theft – he was also the individual who, in a Canadian first, was convicted in October for the improper use of a drone.
RCMP contend Chamas and several others were “working in concert” in the city’s cocaine trade.
As the investigation continued, search warrants were executed and officers watched what police claim was the illegal transfer of a gun – an offence regarding which, again, Chamas faces charges.
On Monday, police published a list of people arrested and charged as part of Project Gloomiest, alongside seven people for whom arrest warrants are outstanding.
Arrested and released, pending court appearances:
Toufic Chamas (23, Edmonton)
Andrew Rheaume (24, Yellowknife)
Clayton Christensen (40, Yellowknife)
Abdifatah Maie (40, Edmonton)
Toni Tobac (27, Yellowknife)
Brandon Topilikon (26, Yellowknife)
Caitlin Stewart (27, Yellowknife)
Julie Carter (33, Yellowknife)
Arrest warrants issued:
Mohammed Ahmad (20, Edmonton)
Abdikani Warsame (27, Toronto)
Brett Lacey (29, no fixed address)
Paul Mangiel (27, Red Deer)
Rasid Abdula (23, Edmonton)
Samatar Yousuf (22, Ottawa)
Kerry Balsillie (30, Yellowknife)
“This was a very challenging investigation, compounded by the fact that many of the people we encountered were from out of town, and operated under pseudonyms,” said Staff Sergeant Dean Riou, a member of the NWT RCMP’s federal investigations unit, in a news release issued on Monday.
“Extensive efforts were made to confirm the identity of these people who came to Yellowknife to exploit our most vulnerable citizens,” Riou continued.
“In addition to trafficking cocaine, some of the individuals charged are alleged to have trafficked substitute substances that they represented as cocaine. While this is obviously profitable, it is a very dangerous activity that fuels violence associated to the drug trade, which puts both the trafficker and the general public at risk.”