Two people from Metro Vancouver will be in court this month on drug charges after police seized 132 kilograms of cocaine from a shipping container from Brazil.
Yan Chau (Andrew) Lam, 48, and Sok Wai (Gertrude) Cheong, 43, were arrested in February 2016 after a joint investigation between U.S. law enforcement agencies and the RCMP.
The RCMP was first alerted to the illicit shipment 18 months ago after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in California discovered three roller suitcases inside a refrigerated container in transit to the Port of Vancouver.
The U.S. agents found 110 packages containing more than 30 kilograms of cocaine inside the suitcases.
They notified their counterparts in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations which has an office in Vancouver.
The U.S. officers began collaborating closely with Canadian authorities to obtain further evidence about the circumstances surrounding the shipment and identify possible suspects.
“We believe they were tailgating,” RCMP Supt. Cal Chrustie said. “That’s when drug traffickers piggyback a legitimate shipment of goods.”
The RCMP arrested Lam, a Richmond resident, and Cheong, who lives in Vancouver, in February 2016, shortly after the shipment was picked up from the shipping container.
“At that time police also gathered evidence to support a search warrant for a Richmond apartment, where numerous exhibits were seized including 40,000 fentanyl pills and a one kilogram brick of methamphetamine,” Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said in a news release.
Chrustie said the seizures “would definitely have impacted the transnational organized crime networks involved.”
“Even more importantly, we believe that preventing these drugs from reaching our communities has undoubtedly saved countless lives,” he said.
The Canada Border Services Agency was also involved in the investigation.
“This seizure is a great example of the agency’s commitment to working with domestic and international partners to effectively manage and respond to emerging risks at our borders,” CBSA enforcement director Yvette-Monique Gray said in a release.
Lam is charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance, conspiracy to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Cheong faces one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Both have been released on bail, and are scheduled to be back in court in Richmond Provincial Court on October 31.