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Four men have been charged over an elaborate plot to smuggle guns into Canada and cannabis into the U.S, say police.

Officials swooped on the gang following a 16-month operation involving U.S. Homeland Security, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Ontario Provincial Police.

Police say they seized a total of 18 handguns, around 800 marijuana plants, dried cannabis and around 14 ounces of a substance they believe to be cocaine.

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They also seized a truck, trailer and a Jet Ranger helicopter, which police say was used to illegally ferry the cannabis into the U.S. flying covertly at low altitude to avoid detection.

Officers say the men made the trip in the helicopter on at least “several occasions”. Local media reports say police executed six search warrants in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec.

Stock image: Police lights.
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Police on both sides of the border hailed the operation as a triumph in the fight against illegal drugs, deadly weapons and organized crime.

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Michael Buckley, attached to Homeland Security Investigations at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, said: “This important disruption removed 18 firearms from a criminal organisation that posed a significant threat to Canadian communities and brazenly exploited our shared border through the air.”

Inspector Ann Koenig, of the Hamilton-Niagara RCMP, said police were determined to do all they could to keep citizens safe by fighting organized crime. She praised the efforts of all those involved in the initiative.

She said: “The success of the investigation is due to the diligent efforts of the RCMP officers, analysts and the efforts of our partners, specifically U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S Air and Marine Operations, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Ontario Provincial Police-Provincial Joint Forces.

“The RCMP continues to be committed to combating transnational organized crime and keeping our citizens safe by removing illicit commodities off the streets and out of the hands of these groups.”

The investigation is continuing and police say it is unclear at this stage exactly where the guns originated from.

Kamal Deep Bassan, 36, of Vaughan, Ramindejit Assi, 25, of Burlington, Derek Chi-Yeung Ng, 40, of East Gwillimbury and Pamjot Saini, 30 of Woodbridge have each been charged with conspiracy to export cannabis, possession of cannabis for the purpose of exporting it, illegally cultivating cannabis and possession of forged documents.

Saini is also charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of distributing it.

Assi is also facing charges for the illegal possession of brass knuckles and possession of cocaine.

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