One of the owners of a Winnipeg bagel shop was a high-ranking member of a drug trafficking network that moved cocaine and MDMA into Manitoba and distributed it within the province, a court filing alleges.
Chris Silva, who owns Hudson Bagels, was charged on Dec. 14 with trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking and possession of property or the proceeds of property obtained by drug-related crime valued over $5,000.
The incidents outlined in the court filing include one where a Gucci brand gift bag containing $45,000 in cash was allegedly handed over to Silva, and another in which he’s accused of using an alias to send $90,000 in cash to an address in British Columbia.
The crimes Silva is charged with are alleged to have happened between Sept. 13 and Dec. 14, court records show.
Hudson Bagels, a small white shop with a bright yellow door and a black-and-white striped awning on Winnipeg’s Sherbrook Street, opened during the pandemic in November 2020.
The provincial government is now seeking to seize money from bank accounts linked to Silva, his partner and co-owner and to their business, alleging Silva made two cash deposits of $10,000 or more this year into an account under the bagel shop’s name.
Silva also made three large cash deposits in a span of four hours into a joint account he shares with his partner, according to the statement of claim the director of criminal property forfeiture filed in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench on Dec. 13.
Silva’s partner has not been charged with any crimes. The charges against Silva have not been proven in court. Neither responded to requests for comment.
Manitoba law allows the government to seize assets that are the proceeds of a crime or were used to commit one, even if the person involved hasn’t been convicted of a crime.
The filing alleges the funds in the bank accounts are the proceeds of crime and were either used or intended to be used to buy drugs to traffic, which in turn was likely or intended to result in profit.
$1 million worth of cocaine
The charges stem from a police investigation dubbed Project Onyx that began in August 2021, the court filing said.
During that investigation, police used undercover officers, production orders, warrants and surveillance — including direct physical surveillance of Silva — the filing said.
The court filing also alleges police observed somewhere around $1 million worth of cocaine being handled, stored and/or distributed by members of the network.
It details several incidents where Silva was allegedly seen being given drug money by another member of the network.
Those range in date from July to December. In three of the incidents, Silva was allegedly given the cash in the same Southdale shopping centre parking lot, the filing said.
Police got a warrant in one of those incidents to covertly find and inspect a Gucci brand gift bag that would later allegedly be turned over to Silva. It contained $45,000 in cash, the filing said.
In another incident, the filing alleges Silva got the cash in the parking lot of a restaurant on St. Mary’s Road. He then allegedly went to his Sherbrook Street bagel shop for about 45 minutes before leaving to meet in his vehicle with an unknown person.
After that, the court filing alleges he went to the Purolator on Sargent Avenue and arranged to ship a package to an address in Langley, B.C., under the name M. Glass.
Police intercepted that package with a warrant and covertly searched it, and the finding states they found $90,000 in cash.
That money “was not bundled or packaged in a manner consistent with standard banking practices” but “was bundled and packaged in a manner consistent with high-level drug trafficking and proceeds of unlawful activity,” the court filing said.
Silva, his partner, the bagel shop and their bank are all listed as defendants in the statement of claim.
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