MINTO EXPRESS STAFF
WELLINGTON COUNTY – A four-month investigation by members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service Drug Branch, in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, has resulted in a significant disruption of the illegal drug trade of methamphetamines and heroin.
“It is a significant investigation that has created a significant disruption” in the drug trade in the region and eight other communities across Ontario, Waterloo Regional Insp. Greg Lamport said Thursday at police headquarters in Cambridge.
Twenty-eight search warrants were executed in several southern Ontario communities during the investigation. In the early morning hours of Jan. 16, police searched homes and properties in Kitchener, Cambridge, Elmira, Elora, Fergus, Palmerston, Dundalk, Whitechurch, Toronto, Kingston and Lyndhurst Township.
To this point, 30 adults have been arrested and over 200 Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances charges have been laid with further charges pending. Also charged are two female youths from Kitchener. Accused persons are scheduled for court appearances in the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener.
Police have seized methamphetamine, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, fentanyl patches, and prescription pills with an approximate street value of $225,000. Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller that has become popular with drug users addicted to OxyContin, a painkiller delisted by the provincial government.
Thirty-one guns, 1,075 rounds of ammunition, an explosive device, stun gun and brass knuckles were also seized, along with 16 vehicles and just under $80,000 in Canadian and U.S. currency.
Palmerston residents wanted by Police
Cathy Lorenz of Palmerston, 44, is charged with two counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm, eight counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of a firearm with the serial number removed, possession of a firearm while prohibited and unsafe storage of firearms and ammunition.
Mark McCorquodale of Palmerston, 28, is charged with 10 counts of trafficking in controlled substances, two counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of a firearm with serial number removed, possession of a firearm while prohibited and unsafe storage of firearms and ammunition.
As of press time, both suspects were still at large and wanted by police.
Police say further charges could be laid as the investigation continues.
Lamport said this four-month police investigation — dubbed Project Noex — began in Waterloo Region with a probe into the heroin and methamphetamine drug trade.
“Then we quickly realized it was beyond Waterloo Region” and recruited the OPP to assist, Lamport said.
OPP Det. Insp. Steve Clegg said it was a “significant investigation” that impacts public safety.
Clegg also called it “a win” to get handguns off the streets, which are easily transferred between criminals.
Lamport said the amount of drugs and firearms seized was evenly distributed between the rural and urban communities.
He said police put a dent in a “criminal enterprise” but the people charged are not members of any “specific gang.”
“Is it organized crime? Those decisions will be made later in conjunction with the Crown,” Lamport said.
The war on drug crime has not ended with these arrests, Lamport said.
“Is this investigation a message to others? … Yes it is. We will continue to track them down, find them and deal with them accordingly,” he said.
Anyone with further information relating to this investigation is asked to call the Waterloo Regional Police Service Drug Branch at 619-653-7700 ext. 8612 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.
- With files from the Guelph Mercury