A Coquitlam resident is getting three years behind bars after trying to import, what's described as, an addictive narcotic drug into the Tri-Cities from halfway around the world.
Hamid Modrek Najafabadi was sentenced on April 29 for the international sting more than five years later after police intercepted opium.
Hamid Nemati Shirazi, a suspected associate, was also handed 5.5 years in prison in a European courtroom.
On Feb. 14, 2017, Modrek Najafabadi was arrested after police executed a search warrant at his Coquitlam home.
Officers seized two kilograms of opium and $3,250 in cash, shortly after Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Ontario was alerted of a package reportedly containing more of the drug inbound from Germany to Toronto Pearson airport.
The package was set to arrive in Coquitlam.
Prior to the search, BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime's major projects unit (FSOC) arrested Nemati Shirazi for drug trafficking following a transnational importation investigation stemming from Germany as well.
That's when German federal police — Bundespolizei or BPOL — discovered the suspected opium's shipment details and immediately alerted the RCMP International Liaison Officer.
"FSOC Major Projects teams use innovative, advanced investigative techniques, and work collaboratively with our policing partners to meet our common goals of effectively combating transnational organized crime," explains Supt. Richard Bergevin, Officer in Charge of BC RCMP Federal Policing – Major Projects, in a news release today (May 13).
"This successful investigation showcases the great work that can be accomplished through our domestic and international partnerships, and our International Liaison Officers’ dedication to protecting Canadians from their assigned duty stations around the globe."
Modrek Najafabadi was also handed a 10-year prohibition on owning or operating weapons, as well as ancillary orders for forfeiture of exhibits and a DNA order.
His counterpart, Nemati Shirazi, also had €56,000 (nearly $89,000 CAD) seized in personal assets.
Smuggling the drug
FSOC major projects discovered the opium inbound from Germany hidden inside a subwoofer speaker box.
In the subsequent search of the Coquitlam home, police found four hollow water pumps consistent with previous opium-shipment investigations by BPOL.
Upon his arrest, Modrek Najafabadi was also charged with the following:
- Possession for the purpose of trafficking
- Importing a controlled substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Opium is widely produced in select countries around the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The 2021 harvest in Afghanistan increased to 6,800 tons of the narcotic, which experts say could lead to around 320 tons of pure heroin flooding the global market.
This is raising more opioid-crisis concerns as heroin is often mixed with fentanyl.
"In response to the increasing sophistication of transnational organized crime groups, the BC RCMP FSOC Major Projects teams are mandated to specifically target organized crime groups whose criminal activities have divisional, national, and international implications for Canada," today's police statement further reads.
"Given the complexity and duration of such investigations, the FSOC Major Projects teams conduct longer term, intricate, project oriented investigations with a national and transnational scope, often involving numerous domestic and international partner agencies from around the world."