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BONOKOSKI: Murder behind ‘victimless crime’ of illicit cigarettes

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The media did not focus intensely on the actors behind the police takedown of Project Cairnes in 2020 because the play itself was so grand and daring.

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A transport trailer loaded with millions of freshly made contraband cigarettes from an unregulated Six Nations factory would head west into British Columbia, then return east loaded with millions of dollars worth of black market BC Bud . – a top marijuana strain.

The concept was brilliant.

The cigarettes paid for the weed and left plenty of room for profit at both ends of the deal.

No one was hurt except Big Tobacco, Revenue Canada, Revenue Ontario and the legitimate marijuana industry.

BONOKOSKI: Murder behind ‘victimless crime’ of illicit cigarettes
A two-year tobacco smuggling investigation, dubbed Project Cairnes, resulted in a massive seizure that included 11.5 million cigarettes bound for British Columbia, 1,714 pounds of marijuana and three handguns, the police revealed. Ontario Provincial Police on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Picture by handout /Ontario Provincial Police

No tears would be shed.

All of the defendants, already out on bail, hoped few had paid attention to the report’s addendum where the names of the defendants and their charges were listed because their operation was so sensational and burned mega-bucks in just newsprint. to tell the story.

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Sure, readers could find the names in the online edition, but unless they were outright criminals, who would know about them? Or care?

Illicit cigarettes and black market cannabis added up to a victimless crime in the eyes of most of the public.

Giovanni Raimondi, 39, had no criminal record, but was known to law enforcement.

He was outwardly a straight arrow until suspicion later found him at the butt of contraband cigarettes from the Cairnes Project, which the OPP’s anti-contraband tobacco unit shut down six months earlier.

BONOKOSKI: Murder behind ‘victimless crime’ of illicit cigarettes
A two-year investigation dubbed Project Cairnes resulted in the seizure of 1,714 pounds of marijuana and 11.5 million contraband cigarettes bound for British Columbia, the Ontario Provincial Police revealed Thursday, June 11. 2020. Picture by handout /Ontario Provincial Police

It was quite a score.

Police boasted of seizing 11.5 million contraband cigarettes, with an Ontario street value of $942,000, as well as 1,714 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of $2.5 million. .

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Three handguns and ammunition, over a kilogram of cocaine, $236,750 in cash and seven vehicles were also seized.

The project began with an investigation of a tobacco factory in the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation near Brantford, which the OPP quickly learned was controlled by a criminal organization based in the RGT and that no benefit or investment was provided to the Six Nations.

In fact, the OPP went out of their way to make sure no one thought this was a First Nations operation, but rather run by a traditional criminal organization using land protection mohawk.

“Project Cairnes focused on a criminal organization producing and trafficking contraband tobacco on an industrial scale across Canada,” said Det. Insp. Jim Walker said in a prepared statement.

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Raimondi was subsequently charged with several tobacco-related offences, including illegal possession or sale of tobacco products and participation in a criminal organization.

But no pot and no weapons.

It turns out that Toronto homicide detectives have since been investigating a shooting at a residence on Lake Shore Blvd. W. on the evening of January 3 who killed Giovanni Raimondi.

According to a news release, the shooting took place at 9:35 p.m. near Lake Shore and Palace Pier Ct.

No names or descriptions of suspects have been released, and investigators are appealing for anyone who saw Raimondi on January 3, between noon and 9:30 p.m., or saw anything suspicious.

So the track got cold.

BONOKOSKI: Murder behind ‘victimless crime’ of illicit cigarettes
A two-year investigation dubbed Project Cairnes resulted in the seizure of three handguns, 1,714 pounds of marijuana and 11.5 million contraband cigarettes bound for British Columbia, the Ontario Provincial Police have revealed. Thursday, June 11, 2020. Photo by Document Photo /Ontario Provincial Police

A man with no criminal record and therefore a ghost. A supposedly victimless crime involving just cigarettes.

And then he went up a notch or two with marijuana, guns and millions in cash.

And, from that moment, the murder of a man with a clean criminal record puts the police on the hunt for a killer.

There is a book to be written here.

markbonokoski@gmail.com

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