On Tuesday, March 29, I was at RCMP “D” Division in Winnipeg, the RCMP’s headquarters in Manitoba, as they posted the results of a multi-year international investigation. The investigation, which involved law enforcement in Manitoba, the United States and as far away as Colombia and Greece, was dubbed Project Divergent and resulted in the largest drug bust in the history of Manitoba RCMP.
Over $70 million worth of street drugs were seized in this operation. RCMP say the drugs were intended for distribution across Canada. In total, officers seized cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and ecstasy in addition to 14 handguns, five assault rifles and nearly half a million dollars in cash. Not only was this the largest drug seizure in Manitoba RCMP history, it was nearly double the second largest.
The impact of this massive drug seizure is significant, but it also speaks to the challenge law enforcement faces in trying to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs. This operation was successful due to early criminal intelligence work and information sharing between law enforcement. During the Operation Divergent press conference, the RCMP made a special effort to acknowledge the contribution of the Winkler police who helped make this operation such a success. This demonstrates the importance of Manitoba’s various law enforcement agencies working together and sharing information.
The importance of this has been highlighted in recent proposed amendments to the Manitoba Police Services Act that will help establish the Manitoba Criminal Intelligence Center and facilitate information sharing between provincial police services. Although Manitoba is serviced by the RCMP, various municipal police services and First Nations police services, they are all committed to helping keep Manitobans safe no matter what area they police. And those who traffic in drugs or commit other illegal acts do not limit their activities to borders or police jurisdictions. The ability to improve intelligence gathering and sharing will continue to be an important part of Manitoba’s enforcement efforts.
I especially want to commend “D” Division Commanding Officer Jane MacLatchy and Inspector Grant Stephen for their leadership on Project Divergent and for helping to remove these illicit drugs from the streets and our communities. And of course, there are countless other law enforcement officers locally and in other parts of the world who have assisted in the seizure of these drugs and weapons.
Late last week, Commander MacLatchy also officially announced that she would be retiring from the RCMP, after 34 years of service. She announced that her last day as commander would be June 3. This begins the process of finding a new Commanding Officer for RCMP Headquarters in Winnipeg. I would like to thank Commander MacLatchy for his service to Canadians in general and for his recent service to Manitobans in particular. We wish her well as she enters a new chapter in her life.