Reproduced from The Mississauga News
by Louie Rosella
Two men have been found guilty in connection with a cocaine smuggling operation that saw close to $4 million worth of the drug make its way by sea from Guyana to St. John, New Brunswick, and then to a public storage facility in Mississauga.
Justice Peter Daley found James Buttazzoni, 43, of Mississauga, and Rampersaud Ramlall, 40, of Whitby, guilty in Brampton court Friday of conspiracy to import cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. However, the judge acquitted both men of importing cocaine, ruling Buttazzoni only became involved with the cocaine when it arrived in Ontario. Evidence showed that Ramlall had communication with people in Guyana, who were involved in the exportation of the cocaine to Canada, but the judge ruled “his conduct, on the evidence, does not constitute importing.”
The shipment of cocaine arrived in Canada on May 28, 2012 at the port of St. John, New Brunswick by ship, in a sea container. The estimated value of the cocaine, if sold at the kilogram level, was approximately $3.9 million and, if sold at the gram level, was $8.9 million, court heard.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers opened the container and located 112 kilograms of cocaine with a purity of 74 per cent, which was hidden in the wooden pallets located in the container. The container also held quantities of hot sauce, Chinese sauce, seasonings and noodles, court heard.
Customs officers contacted the RCMP, who conducted a controlled delivery and tracked the shipment to a public storage facility in Mississauga. The container was equipped with electronic audio and physical surveillance devices, court heard.
“The process of secreting the cocaine within the wooden pallets, the placement of the pallets within the container, and the shipping of the container from Guyana to New Brunswick was a sophisticated and planned scheme and did not happen by chance or through inadvertence,” Daley ruled. “This was a sophisticated importing scheme, which involved several persons, some of whom were unknown to each other and others who joined the agreement at times beyond the initial inception of the agreement between the importing parties present in Canada and the parties in Guyana.”
Two others charged in the scheme were acquitted.