Mob turncoat testifies against former boss at cocaine trafficking trial

A Mafia trial heard testimony Monday about a scheme to bring high-grade cocaine into Canada, hidden in pails of jerk chicken sauce

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TORONTO — As a purported major cocaine importation scheme started to knit together, two men met at a Tim Hortons in Toronto to iron out details. There had been a hitch when a buyer was reluctant to pay, news met with dismay by one of the men, an experienced mob enforcer.

“What the f—, people want to die?”

Then, before they got down to planning, there was a pressing issue to get out of the way.

“A large double-double with cream,” the mobster said, placing his coffee order. “I want a donut as well, gimme a honey dip.”

The alleged cocaine importation scheme in 2015, to bring high-grade cocaine into Canada, hidden in pails of jerk chicken sauce from Jamaica and Costa Rica, was caught by police in a series of secret audio wiretaps and hidden video recordings that were played in court Monday as part of a precedent-setting Mafia trial.

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Interpreting exactly what court was seeing and hearing, and decoding the street lingo and mob terminology for a jury, was Carmine Guido, 47, a former mob enforcer who emerged as the inside man for an anti-Mafia police task force that led to sweeping arrests in 2015. He was paid more than $2 million for his co-operation.

At the time, police announced they had penetrated the inner sanctum of a Toronto-based cell of the ’Ndrangheta, the proper name of the Mafia formed in southern Italy’s Calabria region. The secretive and powerful ’Ndrangheta is considered the top of the crime food chain in Ontario and among the most powerful around the world.

On trial are only two of the men arrested in that probe, code-named Project OPhoenix by the RCMP: Giuseppe Ursino, 64, of Bradford, Ont., known as Pino, who court heard was considered an alleged boss of a clan of the ’Ndrangheta; and Cosmin Dracea, 41, of Toronto, known as Chris.


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Both men face charges of cocaine trafficking, commission of an offence for the benefit of a criminal organization, and other charges.

The accused: Giuseppe Ursino, left, and Cosmin Dracea. Photo by File

The middleman between Ursino and Dracea in the alleged arrangements was Guido, who, unbeknownst to those around him, had signed on as an informant in May 2013.

His testimony, if accepted as truth, offers an unprecedented glimpse into how the ’Ndrangheta works in the Toronto area.

Back at the coffee shop meeting — and several others like it at Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Country Style donuts, Italian cafés and in Guido’s BMW SUV, bought for him by police — the cocaine plot was hammered out, court heard.

Court heard Dracea had connections who could export cocaine to Canada. The operation was highly mobile. They started shipping from Antigua and then moved it to Panama and then to Jamaica, shifting whenever shipments start getting lost.


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They were careful and clever.

They mixed the cocaine with spicy jerk chicken sauce. The strong odour threw off border detection dogs, court heard. Guido was told the suppliers had access to retired customs detector dogs — those trained to find cocaine in shipping containers but no longer in active service — to test how well their cocaine was hidden before it was shipped.

Everything is good and then 10 minutes later they come up and kill him

Guido and Dracea said they would do three or four shipments of the cocaine and then stop, to avoid further risk of getting caught, court heard.

“I don’t want to take the chance after that,” Guido said.

“Same as me,” Dracea said. “I make that, I retire.”

They agreed they would both buy Maserati sports cars with the profit from their first load. When things looked like the plan was on track, the men joked the money was coming.


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“Start picking out your Maserati. I’m getting red,” said Guido on the recording of a Feb 13, 2015, meeting.

“I want white,” said Dracea.

The conversations were never far from understanding the danger involved.

“Everything is good and then 10 minutes later they come up and kill him,” Guido said at one point, describing how underworld partnerships can end.

Police seized 2.5 kilograms of marijuana and 7 kilograms of cocaine during the course of the investigation into the Canadian arm of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia crime group. Photo by CFSEU/RCMP

When the test run of jerk sauce arrived — without cocaine to see if the shipment went through customs — Guido was alarmed. He thought the product would be powder but instead was a brown liquid.

“It looks horrible,” he said. “It looks like diarrhea.”

In March 2015, after almost two years of secretly working as a police agent against his underworld colleagues, Guido was feeling the pressure.

“I was starting to feel a little bit frustrated, I was having some anxiety issues. It’s tough living with,” he told the jury when asked by prosecutor Jeremy Streeter about what state he was in during the operation.

“It’s a long time, it’s tough to keep going out there for two years … Every day, out there risking someone finding out. I was worried about my family too.”

The trial continues.

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