Ten people from Winnipeg have been arrested and charged following two drug trafficking investigations that resulted in $3.4 million worth of heroin and opium seized, some of which was hidden in rugs.
The Winnipeg Police Service and the Canada Border Services Agency ran the investigation, called Project Poppy, from September 2022 to February 2023.
Inspector Elton Hall with the Winnipeg Police Service said the opium-laced rugs came from Dubai to Winnipeg.
“The Drug Enforcement Unit determined that the names and addresses associated to the rugs were fictitious and information on the shipping labels was fabricated to avoid detection by CBSA and police,” he said. “The addresses associated to many of the packages imported to Canada did not exist or were delivered to vacant or unoccupied properties.”
Hall said the opium was found in carpet threads that were woven through the rugs, and it would be extracted when delivered.
On Sept. 22, police executed a search warrant at a home in the Maples neighbourhood, taking three people into custody.
Police seized four rugs containing 9.6 kilograms of opium, with an estimated street value of $2 million. They also seized 227 grams of black tar heroin, 20.8 grams of powder heroin, and drug trafficking materials. The three people arrested, all from Winnipeg, have been charged with multiple drug trafficking offences.
The second investigation started in December in Maples, lasting approximately two months. Multiple search warrants were executed in Winnipeg and West St. Paul, including in two vehicles, two homes and four banks.
Police seized approximately seven kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of $1.4 million. They also seized approximately 473,490 in Canadian currency, approximately $120,000 in gold jewelry and drug trafficking materials.
Seven people, ranging in age from 25 to 50, are facing multiple drug trafficking charges.
Hall said Winnipeg is seeing more heroin on the streets as a result of the fentanyl crisis.
“For a lot of years, you didn’t see heroin in the city, but now with the new fentanyl crisis, we have much more heroin entering the city,” he said.