Manitoba investigator, National Microbiology Lab warden charged with organized crime massive drug robbery

Drugs and weapons seized as part of Project Dawgpound are on display by RCMP.  (Jérémie Bergeron/Radio-Canada - photo credit)

Drugs and weapons seized as part of Project Dawgpound are on display by RCMP. (Jérémie Bergeron/Radio-Canada – photo credit)

A provincial unit investigator was involved in an organized crime raid in Manitoba that arrested more than 20 people and seized several kilograms of drugs.

Donavon Sired, 50, faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and conspiracy. He is accused of leaking information about police enforcement plans to drug dealers.

He was a member of Manitoba Finance’s Special Investigation Unit, which normally investigates cigarette smuggling.

Project Dawgpound, as the investigation was dubbed by the police, began in May 2022 and has grown by leaps and bounds, its scope reaching across the country, said Insp. Grant Stephen, the Manitoba RCMP’s organized crime officer.

“Once we saw the totality of what we were looking at, we initiated an overall project with a primary goal that we wanted to disrupt.”

Josh Crabb/CBC

Josh Crabb/CBC

That target was Hue Ha, 36, of Winnipeg, who is accused by RCMP of organizing the importation of large quantities of cocaine from Ontario.

Police allege Ha or an agent traveled to Ontario to pick up drugs and unstamped cigarettes and brought them back to Manitoba. They were distributed to communities across the province, including Winnipeg, Brandon, Poplar River, St. Laurent, Ashern, Fairford and Gypsumville, police said.

The operation also reached well beyond the province, going to Vancouver, Calgary, Pickering, Ontario, Toronto, Moncton, NB, and Prince Edward Island, police said.

Eventually, however, it emerged that Ha had information on enforcement plans, RCMP said. That leak was traced to an internal source at Manitoba Finance and further narrowed down to Sired, police claim.

“I’m sure law enforcement would say when they start an investigation that they don’t always know where they’re going and sometimes they lead to unexpected places,” Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.

“But it’s important that law enforcement follow the evidence and take action … even if it leads to unexpected or maybe disappointing places.”

He expects Manitoba Finance to conduct its own internal investigation into how the leaks happened.

“People can be lured into these types of activities for many different reasons … but they are not above the law or immune to it,” Goertzen said.

“Regardless of who you are or where you work, if you help individuals in any way to distribute or manufacture drugs, there will be consequences.”

Ha faces multiple charges ranging from conspiracy to human trafficking, and 20 other Manitoba and Ontario people are facing multiple charges.

The defendants include a guard for the Corps of Commissionaires at the Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health, the Winnipeg laboratory complex that includes the National Microbiology Laboratory. According to the RCMP, the security guard met with Ha or other members of the criminal organization while on the lab premises and then stockpiled and dealt drugs while on the job.

Josh Crabb/CBC

Josh Crabb/CBC

“The charges brought are worrying and we call for an immediate internal investigation into what happened at the National Microbiology Laboratory compound,” a spokesman for the federal health minister wrote in a statement emailed to CBC News.

“We have also directed our officers to review internal security procedures.”

Health Canada said the security guard was fired in January and has limited access to the lab.

“They never had access to any sensitive materials,” a PHAC spokesman said in a statement.

“We are reviewing our safety procedures and are working with the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires to strengthen our partnership to ensure safety at our facilities.”

The health authority said it was working with investigators.

Overall, Project Dawgpound investigators seized:

  • 7.8 kilograms of cocaine.

  • 327 tablets of MDMA (Ecstasy).

  • 13.82 kilograms of Crystal MDMA (Molly).

  • 116 grams of purple down (a mix of fentanyl, carfentanil and often heroin).

  • 139.45 grams of carfentanil.

  • 2.06 kilograms of crystal meth.

  • Five kilograms of psilocybin (magic mushrooms).

According to police, the project has seized more than $2.5 million worth of drugs.

“The drugs, weapons and proceeds of crime that RCMP officers have been able to get off the streets through this project are significant and will severely disrupt drug networks in this province,” said Rob Hill, commanding officer of the Manitoba RCMP.

Josh Crabb/CBC

Josh Crabb/CBC

Investigators also seized prescription pills, cannabis, hashish, shatter (cannabis concentrate), four vehicles, electronic devices, drug paraphernalia and patches related to gangs for the Crazy Indians.

Two handguns, seven semi-automatic rifles, seven shotguns, two rifles and one 3D-printed firearm were seized.

The smuggled cigarettes’ share of the operation was worth $1.47 million in tax revenue, the RCMP said.

Arrest warrants remain outstanding for two other people, Stephen said.

Josh Crabb/CBC

Josh Crabb/CBC


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