A number of individuals in Canada and the United States have been arrested for cross border smuggling following an investigation involving law enforcement partners on both sides of the border. Today, the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) in collaboration with the Cornwall Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Border Integrity, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police is announcing the results of an investigation dubbed Project Hammerhead.
Project Hammerhead, initiated and led by the CBSA, is an investigation into an alleged sophisticated cross border smuggling organization, utilizing the Akwesasne territory as a transit point to facilitate the smuggling of firearms, marijuana, and currency across the Canada and United States border.
On January 28, 2021 three search warrants were simultaneously executed in Cornwall, on Cornwall Island, and in Hogansburg, New York. This led to the arrest of two residents of Cornwall, one resident of Cornwall Island, one resident of St. Regis, Quebec, and three residents of Hogansburg, New York. Consequently, over 1,225 lbs of marijuana were seized along with $467,480 CAD, $3,000 USD, three loaded handguns with their magazines, and five vehicles.
The Cornwall Police Service have charged Mark Rudolph, 35, of Cornwall with the following offences:
- Importing and exporting cannabis
- Possession of a firearm contrary to prohibition order x 3
- Possession of property obtained by crime over $5000
- Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
- Careless storage of a firearm or ammunition x 4
- Knowledge of unauthorized possession of a firearm x 3
- Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm x 3
Rudolph remains in custody pending a court appearance.
The other six people were arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Five of them were held to appear in front of a United States Magistrate Judge for federal violations of conspiring to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess for distribution more than 100 kg of marijuana under 21 USC 846, 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B).
This investigation highlights the success of multi-agency partnerships in addressing cross border criminal activity. These law enforcement partners work together as part of Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), who, despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, remain committed to safeguarding their respective countries and keeping contraband goods from reaching their communities.
“The Canada Border Services Agency is committed to preventing organized criminal activity across our border. The coordination and collective team effort of all agencies involved demonstrates how our close partnerships benefit the safety of Canadians and protect our borders.”
– Stephanie Chenier Director of Intelligence & Enforcement Northern Ontario, CBSA
“Local, national and international collaboration between law enforcement agencies is imperative to stem the flow of illegal commodities into our communities. The Ontario Provincial Police, as part of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, are committed to preserving the safety of the citizens of our communities and holding those accountable who bring illegal commodities across our borders.”
– Detective Inspector Gerry Scherer, Specialty Services – OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau
“This investigation demonstrates the continued efforts of our law enforcement partners in targeting organized crime. The Cornwall Police Service is proud to have supported this high-level operation and will continue to work diligently to dismantle criminal enterprises and create a safer community.”
– Deputy Chief Shawna Spowart, Cornwall Police Service
“This joint investigation disrupted a criminal organization that posed a significant threat to both U.S. and Canadian communities and brazenly exploited our shared border for illicit gain. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Massena’s Border Enforcement Task Force, also known as BEST, allows for critical multi-agency partnerships and coordination. Through BEST, HSI is proud to work with our Canadian partners in combatting transnational criminal networks that threaten our international region.”
– Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations
“The RCMP in Ontario is proud to work alongside our partners in public safety on both sides of the border. Project Hammerhead is a testament that collaboration between law enforcement agencies is critical to identifying, investigating and prosecuting criminal organizations using our border to advance their interests. As part of our Border Integrity mandate, members of the RCMP in Ontario are eager to continue working with our partners to keep our Canadian border secure and make our communities safer.”
– Superintendent Shawn Boudreau, Officer in Charge, Border Integrity, RCMP