RCMP investigation found that a Winnipeg man trafficked drugs into remote First Nations communities and then tried to launder massive illegal proceeds via casinos in the city. Its Project Doom inquiry kicked off over a year ago after the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries contacted the police about some suspicious activity happening at Winning gaming properties.
Last month, RMPC officers arrested 30-year-old Mohammad Riyadul Hoque of Winnipeg who will now face charges of trafficking fentanyl, trafficking cocaine, money laundering, and possession of proceeds of crime. But he was released on CA$50,000 bail along with conditions, such as curfew, and being banned from setting foot at casinos, racetracks, or bars with VLTs.
Sum Remains Undisclosed
Tara Seel, a media relations officer with the Manitoba RCMP, shared the culprit was bringing large amounts of cash into casinos, buying casino chips with it, and then cashing the chips out, as a means of covering the connection to criminal activity. However, she did not provide an exact number of the money that was supposedly laundered, but it was a large one.
Furthermore, Mounties disclosed that after the search of the man’s home, they discovered cash and various drugs, as well as the confiscation of two vehicles, 498 grams of crack cocaine, 882 counterfeit OxyContin tablets also known as fentanyl, 241 Percocet tablets, 26 gabapentin tablets, and 348 unknown pills. Charges are not yet proven in court.
Mr. Hoque is scheduled to appear in a court of law over the trafficking charges this week. The RCMP also said that they believed that the drugs were being channelled into remote First Nation communities in the province. This includes Red Sucker Lake, Garden Hill, Island Lake and St. Theresa Point, along with North Spirit Lake in Ontario.
St. Theresa Point Chief Elvin Flett claimed that his community is in the midst of a drug crisis and it has gone out of control. Since St. Theresa Point is a fly-in community for most of the year, he elaborated the main point of entry for the drugs is the local airport. But without the authority to conduct any searches at the airport, they are powerless to stop the flow of drugs, said the chief.
Ontario Deals with Similar Issue
The Province of Ontario also has to deal with suspicious cash activities at its casinos, finds Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s annual report. In her latest report, she highlighted that after a sting operation, she found that the number of suspicious transactions is relatively low but it varies among different casino properties and advised Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to address the issue.
In May 2023, two former officers of the RCMP urged the province to conduct a complete investigation into the hundreds of millions of dollars of shady cash transactions at casinos. The two assume these large sums of cash were acquired illegally. He noted that the numbers were significant but until every transaction is fully examined by an investigation it would be hard to tell.
Source: Unger, Danton “Winnipeg man arrested in months-long money laundering investigation: RCMP” CTV News, October 5, 2023