IN 2018, a Manitoba RCMP criminal analyst noticed some trends regarding the international importation of drugs into Canada. When investigators realized they were onto a large-scale domestic operation, Project Divergent was born.
Through intelligence-led policing, the police uncovered a significant Canada-wide operation involving the trafficking of illicit drugs and firearms. The objective of the RCMP was to infiltrate the target groups and dismantle the drug trafficking and importation networks that involved individuals across Canada and internationally, according to Manitoba RCMP.
Multiple police techniques were used to infiltrate the networks, and investigators began to see large-volume transactions happening with cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, specifically fentanyl, and assault-style firearms and ammunition. A connection with the Hells Angels was discovered.
On February 23, Damion Ryan, a full patch Hells Angels member with the Attica chapter in Greece, was arrested in Ontario, which was a huge disruption to the supply chain of drugs and guns that he helped facilitate.
[Damion Ryan was one of six gangsters with links to Vancouver whose photos, names and ages were released to the media by Vancouver Police in May 2021. Vancouver Police said they posed a significant risk to the safety of the public. Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer at the time said: “Our police intelligence leads us to believe that the individuals we have identified today may be targeted by rival gang members. My greatest concern right now, related to the ongoing gang violence, is that an innocent bystander will be hurt or killed during a shooting targeting a gangster.” His name was also included in the list of 11 individuals involved in the Lower Mainland Gang Conflict that the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) announced the next day as it also issued a public warning that these individuals posed a significant threat to the public.]
[Police sources told The VOICE that the three charged from B.C., Kelvin Lee Nelson, 27, from Burnaby, Mazin Nzar Zandy, 24, from Burnaby, and Denis Ivziku, 24, from the Lower Mainland, are all connected to Ryan who is the alleged leader of the Wolf Pack — some members of the Hells Angels, the Red Scorpions and the Independent Soldiers who form this distinct group.]
Through different means from various targets, Project Divergent officers seized:
- 110 kilos of cocaine
- 41.4 kilos of methamphetamine
- 3 kilos of fentanyl
- .5 kilo of MDMA
- 14 handguns
- 5 assault-style rifles, and
- More than $445,000 in Canadian currency
In total 22 individuals were charged as part of Project Divergent.
- Enrico Funk, 29, from Freidensruh, Manitoba
- Artjom Gotting, 32, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Nathaniel Cabal, 31, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Trinh Ducthang Dinh, 31, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Zuhair Mohammad-Zarif, 27, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Jesse James Whyte, 26, from Winnipeg,Manitoba
- Damion Patrick Ryan, 41, from Ottawa, Ontario
- Kelvin Lee Nelson, 27, from Burnaby, BC
- Mazin Nzar Zandy, 24, from Burnaby, BC
- Andre Omar Steele, 41, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Brittany Girardeau, 28, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Albert Theodore Jansen, 39, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Sharon Jonatanson, 66, from Libau, Manitoba
- Scott Matthew Jonatanson, 27, from Libau, Manitoba
- Caitlin Jones, 22, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Owen James Quesnel, 33, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- William Solomon Gooding, 24, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Brian Christopher Yakimoski, 28, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Jeffrey David Gaudet, 32, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Dylan Durval South, 28, from Winnipeg, Manitoba
Two individuals are still at large and are wanted by police:
- Kieffer Michael Kramar, 30. He is from Winnipeg, but police believe he could be anywhere in Canada.
- Denis Ivziku, 24, from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. It is believed he is still in that area.
Both these individuals are actively evading arrest. If anyone has information, you are requested to call RCMP at 204-983-5420.
“As we have seen in this province and in this country, deaths due to opioid overdose have been staggering,” said Inspector Grant Stephen, Officer in Charge of the Federal, Serious, and Organized Crime Section. “Project Divergent disrupted the supply chain and took these drugs off the street. The utter disregard for human life shown by those involved in these networks, specifically those at the top of the chain, became very clear during this investigation, and we were able to take them out of the equation.”
“This operation began right here in Manitoba and reached from Vancouver to Toronto, to Colombia, Greece, and the United States,” said Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, Commanding Officer of the Manitoba RCMP. “The scope and success of Project Divergent was possible because of the tenacity of our investigators and the incredible and unfailing support of our partners. We could not have done this without them.”
The partners who assisted the Manitoba RCMP in Project Divergent are:
- Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia
- BC RCMP
- Quebec RCMP
- National Division RCMP in Ontario
- RCMP Liaison Officers in Bogota, Colombia; Rome, Italy; Washington; and Los Angeles
- Winkler Police Service
- Homeland Security Investigations out of Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Ontario Provincial Police, Biker Enforcement Unit, which also includes officers from the Ottawa Police Service
- Colombian National Police
- Hellenic Police in Greece
- Health Canada
- Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
- Forensic Accounting Management Group (FAMG)
- Public Prosecution Service of Canada