The province is asking the court to seize and freeze the bank accounts of a man who owns a small bagel shop in Winnipeg, accusing him of being a ‘high-ranking’ member of a drug trafficking network.
It comes after the Winnipeg Police Service launched an investigation in August 2021, named Project Onyx, into a drug trafficking network that was importing cocaine and MDMA (also known as ecstasy) into Manitoba.
The details of the investigation are outlined in a statement of claim filed in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench in December by the director of criminal property forfeiture. The claim lists Chris Silva, along with Hudson Bagels Inc., among the defendants.
The claim seeks a court order to forfeit the funds deposited into Silva’s bank accounts as well as the bank accounts listed to Hudson Bagels to the provincial government. Until that happens, the claim is asking the court to freeze the bank accounts.
It alleges Silva, a director of Hudson Bagels, was a ‘high-ranking’ member of the drug trafficking network.
Hudson Bagels, located on Sherbrook Street in Winnipeg, boasts ‘Winnipeg-style bagels’ and describes itself as a, “little bagel shop, with BIG heart behind everything we do,” according to its website. It opened in 2020 during the pandemic.
The claim alleges Silva was responsible for meeting with other members of the drug network to collect the money from the trafficking and then ship packages to suppliers outside Manitoba.
“During the course of the investigation, police directly observed quantities of cocaine with a street value in range of $1,000,000.00 being handled, stored and/or distributed by members of the drug trafficking network,” the claim says, adding police used surveillance and undercover officers during the investigation.
One instance detailed in the claim says an unnamed member of the drug trafficking network had a meetup during which he was given a Gucci gift bag. Police were able to ‘covertly’ find the bag and discovered it had about $45,000 in Canadian cash inside.
Later that day, according to the claim, the unnamed drug trafficker met with Silva at the parking lot of the Southdale Shopping Centre and turned the money over to him.
Several other similar meet-ups are detailed in the claim, all of which allege Silva was given packages containing the money from the drug sales.
One instance alleges the unnamed drug trafficker met Silva outside Hudson Bagels. It says Silva, directly after the meeting, went to a Purolator location and shipped a package to an address in Langley, B.C. using an alias, ‘M. Glass.’
The package was intercepted and covertly searched by police who allege it contained $90,000 in Canadian cash and was bundled in a way ‘consistent with high-level drug trafficking.’
Silva is also alleged to have made large deposits including a $10,000 deposit in January and a $13,700 deposit in March into a bank account listed to Hudson Bagels, as well as three separate deposits within a four-hour period in August into a joint account of his.
Silva was arrested and charged with drug trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.
On Dec. 14, Silva was released on conditions along with a $40,000 surety. Among his conditions, Silva is required to turn over his passport to police, he must meet a curfew, and he must agree to searches of his person or his residence. He also has conditions regarding the shipping and receiving of packages by mail or courier.
The charges against him have not been proven in court. As of Thursday, no statement of defence had been filed.
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