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15-month OPP sting, dubbed Project Tattler, sees $5.5M in cocaine seized

Two Simcoe County residents among three charged; 'Today, we have made a difference,' says OPP official

BARRIE — Fifty-five kilograms of cocaine are now off Ontario streets as a result of an OPP investigation that saw collaboration between multiple agencies in three different countries.

At a news conference in Barrie on Wednesday afternoon, OPP Dep.-Comm. Rick Barnum and Det.-Insp. Mark Loader, joined by representatives from the project's partner agencies, unveiled details of the investigation.

Dubbed Project Tattler, the OPP investigation began in December 2017 as an Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) project.

“In every corner of the province, in every village, in every bustling downtown centre, we have networks of criminals that are operating,” said Barnum. “Their efforts act to infringe on the quality of life we enjoy and strive for in our communities.”

The investigation included participation from members of the OPP-led OCEB and specialty support units, the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the United States’ Department of Homeland Security Investigations (DHSI).

“We firmly believe that this investigation has made a difference,” said Barnum.

Three Ontario residents have been charged following the intercontinental investigation that prevented 55 kgs. of near-pure cocaine from entering the criminal drug supply. Two are from Simcoe County.

Michael Nagtzaam, 35, of Springwater Township has been charged with importation, possession and trafficking of cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime, laundering proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Abrahan Brito, 32, of New Tecumseth, has been charged with importation and trafficking of cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Slobodan Poznic, 44, of Kitchener-Waterloo has been charged with importation and trafficking of cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

The drug distribution network had an international nexus to the United States, with proceeds from the drug distribution were dispersed throughout the organization in Ontario, as well as money linked flowing back to Mexico.

The cocaine, which carries an estimated street value of $5.5 million, as well as $800,000 in Canadian currency were seized. Also seized as proceeds of crime were a pick-up truck, a tractor trailer, and three off-road vehicles, worth a combined $260,000.

The tractor trailer was used to transport the cocaine.

“It was hidden in an elaborately constructed and hidden hydraulic compartment located in the tractor cab itself,” said Loader, adding that it was constructed to look like a speaker compartment.

“We take great pride in the fact that, today, we have made a difference,” said Loader.

Barnum said that the proceeds from crimes committed supported lavish criminal lifestyles.

“I think it’s important for criminals out there to know, if we’re not talking about you at this media conference today, we will be talking about you at the next one, because we are tied in and working together like never before on these investigations,” said Barnum.

“I can’t tell you what we’re doing, but I can tell you it won’t be very long before we’re sitting here again.”


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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