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Canada Arrests 14 on Drug Charges

July 16, 1998

MONTREAL (AP) _ Police in Canada and three other countries have arrested 14 suspects in an international drug trafficking ring, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Wednesday.

Most were arrested in Montreal and Toronto. The others were arrested in the United States, Mexico and Italy.

RCMP Inspector Ben Soave said the target of the investigation was a crime family that runs one of the largest drug-smuggling and money-laundering organization in the world.

He described the alleged leader, Alfonso Caruana, who was arrested in Woodbridge, Ontario, as ``an organized crime icon.″

``If organized crime was a hockey game, Mr. Caruana would be (Wayne) Gretzky,″ said Soave, referring to the pro hockey superstar.

Police said the investigation lasted two years and led to the seizure of 440 pounds of cocaine. The arrested will be charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy to import.

Police said an error by a drug courier was one of the key breaks that helped police crack the case.

``During the investigation we found one weak link among the workers and we started to investigate that guy,″ said RCMP Sgt. Guy Quintal at a news conference in Montreal.

That worker was caught with a truckload of cocaine after neglecting to build a concealed compartment in the vehicle to transport money and drugs between Canada and the United States.

After several trial runs, the couriers were tailed over the border last May at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by Canadian and U.S. authorities, Quintal said. They were arrested in Houston.

``They didn’t really hide the drugs,″ Quintal said. ``They were confident they could cross the border without problems.″

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