News Release
June 18, 2008

High-Level Drug Traffickers Arrested in Joint US/Canada Case

June 18 --(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the RCMP arrested four high-level Canadian drug traffickers in Montréal, concluding a major investigation named Project Caverne that was led by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  The four suspects arrested by the RCMP are allegedly responsible for importing at least 35 tons of cocaine into Canada between 1996 and 2003, and for transporting an estimated 25 tons of cocaine from Texas to New-York in the years 2002 and 2003 only. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration / Corpus Christi worked closely with the RCMP on this investigation.

The four persons arrested are: Miguel Torres, 36, of Blainville; Firmino Tavares, 51, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux; Giovanni Somma, 40, of Montréal; and Gerardo Hurtado, 45, currently imprisoned at the Ste-Anne-des-Plaines penal institution near Montréal. The latter was arrested by the RCMP in September 2004 in connection with another drug investigation.


The information obtained as part of Project Caverne, launched in 2007, corroborate certain evidence from past investigations and establish the commission of criminal offences that allegedly took place in Canada between January 14, 1996, and August 2004.


The evidence gathered in Project Caverne serves to establish, among other things, that Miguel Torres and Firmino Tavares allegedly imported into Canada an estimated 2,154 kilograms of cocaine between September and November 2003. The evidence also serves to establish that Miguel Torres allegedly transported 2,294 kilograms of cocaine from Houston to New-York City over the same period. 


The drug originating from Colombia was introduced into Mexico through various means and then smuggled into the United States.  It was then shipped to New York or Montréal to be sold to local criminal organizations. Facilitators and truckers were used to transport the cocaine from Texas to its final destination for distribution.  The drug was delivered to criminal organizations in exchange for a $1,000 commission for each kilogram sold. Miguel Torres and Firmino Tavares worked separately, each covering a specific distribution area. As for Giovanni Somma and Gerardo Hurtado, they abetted the commission of the offences.


Yesterday, the CFSEU executed four search warrants in order to gather additional evidence, seize offence-related property and arrest the suspects.  The findings of these searches could be used to further the investigation.


The charges laid as part of Project Caverne will include conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, conspiracy for possession of property obtained by crime, cocaine importation, cocaine trafficking and criminal organization offence.