Interprovincial drug bust led by Winnipeg police turns up millions in drugs, cash, luxury goods

More than a dozen people are facing charges, the majority Winnipeggers, after an interprovincial drug bust turned up millions of dollars in cash, drugs, guns, jewelry and luxury vehicles.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) said at a news conference Wednesday it launched a project dubbed “Soft Landing” in May of 2023 after a large amount of Canadian currency was seized at the Winnipeg International Airport over a year prior.

Investigators found the money stemmed from a high-level, interprovincial drug network believed to be trafficking millions of dollars of illicit drugs and firearms into Winnipeg from the Greater Toronto Area.

Inspector Elton Hall with WPS’ organized crime unit says they began investigating a number of suspects who were deemed high value targets by other police services.

“The Winnipeg Police Service organized crime unit determined that numerous members of a well-entrenched network spanned across multiple cities in Canada,” he said.

Drugs seized as part of the Project Soft Landing investigation by Winnipeg Police are displayed on May 1, 2024 (Scott Andersson/CTV News Winnipeg)

According to police, the network used couriers, railways and bus lines to get drugs and guns into Winnipeg.

Investigators found a number of suspects were also involved with sex trafficking, extortion and fraud in Winnipeg and across the country.

“I should be clear that this aspect of the investigation is ongoing,” Hall said.

Officials say the investigation included a number of police services and agencies from across Canada including the Toronto Police Service, the Vancouver Police Service, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the Via Rail Canada Police.

Inspector Elton Hall is pictured at a May 1, 2024 news conference at the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters.

Hall revealed a shooting in early March in the 200 block of Portage Avenue involved suspects who were being investigated in connection with the drug network.

The organized crime unit got judicial authorization to use “covert measures” to prevent the movement of vehicles in an effort to stop their criminal activities, Hall said.

Officers also carried out 24-hour, physical surveillance to prevent further gun violence

The investigation culminated on March 6, when 22 search warrants were carried out in waves across the country. Twelve were in Winnipeg, four in Hamilton, Ont., two in Burlington, Ont., two in Toronto, Ont. and two in Vancouver, BC.

The searches turned up $1.7 million in Canadian currency, about 30 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about $3 million, four handguns, one sub-machine gun with a suppressor, 12 vehicles including a Rolls Royce valued at $450,000, and $4 million in proceeds of crime including a Rolex watch, Louis Vuitton luggage and jewelry, among other items.

Hall says they’re also investigating the possibility of clawing back a $200,000 deposit for a Lamborghini.

Drugs, guns and proceeds of crime seized during “Project Soft Landing” are on display at Winnipeg Police Service headquarters on May 1, 2024. (Scott Andersson/CTV News Winnipeg)

A number of people were arrested across the country. They are charged with offences related to organized crime, drug trafficking, possession of firearms, proceeds of crimes and laundering proceeds of crime. The accused are:

  • Darcy Warmington, 24 of Winnipeg
  • Kevon Warmington, 34, of Winnipeg
  • Paige Preteau, 27, of Winnipeg
  • Elvis Oyewole, 33, of Winnipeg
  • Fiona Lewis, 62, of Winnipeg,
  • Cornelius Hibbert, 55, of Winnipeg,
  • Tovary Sharpe, 34, of Winnipeg
  • Adrian Cheston, 28, of Winnipeg
  • Kerry-Ann Thompson, 32, of Winnipeg
  • Iwona Glogowski, 31, of Vancouver
  • Valentin Kokeny, 22, of Vancouver
  • Andy Le, 35, of Hamilton
  • Arber Imeri, 27, Burlington
  • Tyrone Reid, 37, of Toronto

None of the charges have been proven in court.

Police say the investigation is ongoing in Winnipeg, and they expect more people will be charged.

Some of the items seized in “Project Soft Landing” are shown at a May 1, 2024 news conference at Winnipeg Police Service headquarters. (Scott Andersson/CTV News Winnipeg)

Drug, gun activity ramping up in Winnipeg: WPS

Minister of Justice Matt Wiebe says the drugs seized represent a significant blow to a drug trafficking network that has been operating across the country.

He says the effects of organized criminals know no borders.

“They bring havoc. They bring harm. They bring toxic drugs to our communities, and they must be stopped.”

Hall says Winnipeg’s centralized geographical location causes an influx of gangs, drugs and guns through the city, which has ramped up over the last few years aided by the establishment of one of the country’s biggest land ports.

He says in decades past, drugs used to be trafficked up the west coast, travelling across Canada, with the proceeds coming back east.

“It’s just not the way it works anymore,” he said.

“The impact here in Winnipeg is significant. These operations and these organized crime groups create the violence you see on the streets.”

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