Meth smuggled into North Ontario in Mexican-built Fords

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A Sudbury Ford dealership is one of several in Ontario to help expose a large-scale drug-smuggling operation after suspicious packages were found tucked inside tires.

“In the middle of December we received a call from a local dealership after an employee discovered the contents in the spare tire,” said Kaitlyn Dunn, spokesperson with Greater Sudbury Police.

“Our canine unit responded, as well as a detective from the drug enforcement unit. It was confirmed to be a large quantity of illicit drugs.”

The OPP said Wednesday the packages, containing methamphetamine, relate to a massive smuggling operation that can be traced to a notorious Mexican cartel.

The new Fusion cars were built at Ford’s assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, the OPP said, before being put on northbound trains, with the bricks of meth stashed in the spare tires.

“The powerful Sinaloa cartel is well-entrenched in that area of Mexico,” OPP Supt. Bryan MacKillop told Canadian Press. “We are very certain that they are ultimately responsible for these drugs.”


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MacKillop said investigators believe the “logistics” of the alleged smuggling operation failed, which led to the drugs continuing on to dealerships.

“I don’t think that’s what they wanted,” MacKillop said.

The OPP said they found 180 kilograms of meth during their investigation, which began when employees at four different Ford dealerships found beige-taped packages lining the spares.

Sudbury was the northernmost point where the drugs were discovered; the other dealerships reporting a similar find were in Collingwood, Bolton and Newmarket.

The OPP investigation, dubbed Project Sebright, ballooned to involve the Canada Border Services Agency, Greater Sudbury Police, police in New Brunswick, Quebec provincial police and Ford.

Police said nine of 14 vehicles from the same shipment, found at 13 different Ontario dealerships, contained meth.

Other cars that were part of the same shipment made their way to Quebec and New Brunswick, MacKillop said.

“We were able to proactively stop a similar subsequent shipment of cars as it crossed the border into Canada,” he said.

In that case, police found meth hidden in a similar fashion in 12 of 14 vehicles they searched.

Authorities have continued to search vehicles coming into the country from Mexico, but have yet to find more drugs, MacKillop said.

“That tells us that this method of smuggling has been successfully disrupted,” he said.

He said police don’t know when or where the cars were “exploited,” other than saying those responsible were the Sinaloa cartel, which was once led by drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.


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Guzman was recently found guilty of drug trafficking and murder conspiracy charges in New York.

Police noted the “creative means” to smuggle drugs into the country.

“As we know from past drug-smuggling investigations, it is not uncommon for a criminal organization to resort to creative means to hide illicit drugs within legal cargo,” MacKillop said.

OPP deputy commissioner Rick Barnum said meth has become a significant problem in Canada.

“The use of methamphetamine is on the rise,” Barnum said. “The number of meth seizures has continued to grow since 2010.”

Police said charges have not yet been laid in the smuggling operation and they are continuing to investigate.

With files from the Canadian Press

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