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Cannabis and cryptocurrencies, a arrest and millions seized

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The profits from drug trafficking were subsequently laundered by being converted into cryptocurrency, according to the RCMP.

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In Manitoba, six people do facing charges related to a drug trafficking network that used cryptocurrency to launder its profits, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced Tuesday. Police say they seized drugs, equipment and crime-related proceeds with an estimated value of more than $6 million.

A 39-year-old man from the RM of Springfield was allegedly involved in large-scale drug trafficking rings and faces five charges under the Act, according to an RCMP news release released Tuesday. on cannabis as well as five criminal charges.

This includes charges of fraud over $5,000, identity fraud, possession of property obtained by crime, laundering proceeds of crime and false pretenses, write the RCMP.

Six other people were arrested in connection with the investigation between June and September 2023. Five of them face charges under the Act on cannabis or the Criminal Code, while the charges against the sixth were suspended, the latter having died.

None of these accusations have been proven in court.

In conference press release, Joe Telus, RCMP inspector, indicated that the operation, called Project Decrypt, emerged in connection with Project Divergent, which led to the arrest of 22 people in 2022 for offenses linked to drug trafficking.

Police say the man from Springfield who was arrested was the main link to several criminal networks.

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Joe Telus explains that investigators discovered that the latter would have supplied cannabis illegally to these criminal networks by using a Health Canada license obtained fraudulently […] for a microculture operation.

The Springfield man told an investigator that he grew up to 150 pounds (nearly 70 kilograms) of cannabis per month and transported concentrate of the drug at the border in barrels of honey or maple syrup, according to court documents.

The profits from the trafficking were subsequently laundered by being converted into cryptocurrency.

The investigation led to the search of 11 properties associated with the suspect last summer, leading to the seizure of drugs, equipment, firearms and proceeds of crime with an estimated value of more than $6 million, Joe Telus reports.

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Weapons seized by the RCMP as part of Project Decrypt.

Approximately $88,000 in digital currency was also seized, according to an RCMP spokesperson. However, she believes that other sums have escaped the police.

She explains that the use of cryptocurrencies to launder the proceeds of crime is increasing in large-scale criminal operations due to the speed and ease of transfer.

She adds that this technology can make investigations more complicated, but that the transactions can be traced.

The press release indicates that those arrested have all been released pending their appearance in court.

With information from Anne-Louise Michel

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