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Joint Canada-U.S. criminal operation has possible link to Mexico drug cartels

Mexico City, Mexico — A joint Canadian – U.S. investigation has lead police to a possible link to Mexico drug cartels. Project Cobra, which began in 2020, was a joint effort project between the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), RCMP and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Their investigation lead them to the discovery of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime possibly linked to Mexico.

According to Sgt. Tara McNeil with ALERT, their nearly three-year-long investigation revealed a plot to import large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine into Alberta.

“We believe these drugs originated in Mexico and this criminal organization had established links with the cartels,” she said.

“ALERT alleges that the head of this criminal organization was Ricco King, a 50-year-old man who was well known in Alberta from previous organized crime investigations.

“King was allegedly the top figure of this criminal organization and took extraordinary measures to insulate himself from being directly implicated in criminal activity,” she explained.

In a Wednesday press conference, Supt. Marc Cochlinin reported 928 kilograms of methamphetamine and six kilograms of cocaine were seized. “The amount of harm that mountain of meth brings to our communities is very disturbing” he said.

The joint cross border investigation lead to the seizure of $55 million in narcotics, homes, luxury cars, cash and guns. Police in Canada and the U.S. made large scale drug seizures in Wyoming, Los Angeles, Calgary, Lake Koocanusa, B.C. and North Battleford, Sask.

Nineteen firearms including handguns, rifles, submachine guns and suppressors were seized. Several homes, luxury vehicles and bank accounts were also seized or placed under criminal restraint.

A total of 15 people have been charged with 80 offenses that range from participation in a criminal organization to importation of a controlled substance. One Canadian company, Fouani Equity Funds Ltd., a Calgary-based investment company, was charged with laundering proceeds for an organized crime group.

McNeil explained that the organization didn’t have a name it operated under. “This criminal organization is not defined by race, it’s not defined by age, it doesn’t have a specific name. It’s a group of people that were working together for the benefit of the group to make as much money as possible, to import as many drugs as they possibly could,” she said.

McNeil says Project Cobra is “undoubtedly one of ALERT’s biggest successes and the impact of this investigation will be substantial.”