Arrests in Calgary and Vancouver after organized crime

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Authorities say seven people are facing charges, including three from Calgary, in connection with a lengthy organized crime investigation involving millions of dollars in money laundering.

The Calgary branch of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) as well as the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime say they have busted a money laundering operation that was carried out with the support of some of the country’s largest organized crime groups.

Officials say Project Collector, a three-year investigation that began in Calgary, resulted in charges against seven people and the seizure of $16 million in bank accounts, real estate and vehicles.

ALERT says the gangs transported the proceeds of crime between Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and in one year alone, they determined $24 million in cash was transferred through the operation.

“This particular investigation is unlike any other previously conducted by ALERT,” Mark Cochlin, ALERT CEO, said Wednesday.

“Money laundering is a nuanced offense that is difficult to detect, let alone investigate.”

Law enforcement only became aware of the operation when $1 million — destined for Vancouver — was intercepted in Calgary in July 2018.

Project Collector has discovered that the crime groups involved operated “pseudo bank branches” that enabled them to transfer large sums of money without being detected. The source of these funds was primarily drug trafficking, the authorities say.

“During the course of the investigation, search warrants were executed at a total of 10 homes in the Calgary region, Toronto area and Vancouver,” ALERT said in a statement.

Police say 71 charges have been laid, including participation in a criminal organisation, laundering the proceeds of crime and dealing in property obtained through crime. There were also offenses under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.

The following people were arrested in September and have been charged:

  • Lien Ha, 42, of Calgary;
  • Donald Hoang, 26, of Vancouver;
  • Van Duc Hoang, 64, of Vancouver;
  • Van Thi Nguyen, 62, of Vancouver;
  • Cynthia Nguyen, 42, of Calgary;
  • Yuong Nguyen, 43, of Calgary; and
  • Grace Tang, 25, of Vancouver.

‘TAKEN THE CASH OUT OF CRIME’

Money laundering is a crime that organized groups use to legitimize funds acquired through illicit purposes, officials say. The people arrested were those who ran illegal banks for organized crime, police say, diverting drug money to legitimate purposes, such as the real estate industry, which has a real impact on the daily lives of Canadians.

“The impact of money laundering is felt widely throughout our society with far-reaching political, social and economic consequences,” said Insp. Jason Bobrowich with the Calgary Police Service. “In the case of Project Collector, this money launderer worked to support some of Canada’s biggest crime groups.

“Let me be clear – Project Collector took the money out of crime. We closed the accounts of some of Canada’s biggest organized crime groups.”

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.


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