RCMP NL Project Badminton disrupts crime group engaged in drug and human trafficking

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – A criminal organization engaged in drug and human trafficking has been significantly disrupted as the result of Project Badminton, a 30-month investigation led by RCMP NL Federal Serious and Organized Crime, in partnership with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP-RNC Joint Force Operation West (JFO West). The RCMP provided details of Project Badminton today at a news conference with spokespersons Inspector Stefan Thoms, RCMP NL Federal Serious and Organized Crime; Constable Colleen Noble, RCMP NL Federal Serious and Organized Crime; and Angela Crockwell, Executive Director of Thrive, which runs Blue Door, a program supporting individuals exiting sexually exploitative situations.

A man in a police uniform and two women sit at a table with microphones in front of them with an RCMP backdrop.
A man in a police uniform and two women sit at a table with microphones in front of them with an RCMP backdrop.
Four cell phones, brass knuckles, a handgun with two magazines and a number of bullets, six bundles of money, two laptops, a variety of illicit pills, cannabis and blocks of cocaine sit on a white display table.
Four cell phones, brass knuckles, a handgun with two magazines and a number of bullets, six bundles of money, two laptops, a variety of illicit pills, cannabis and blocks of cocaine sit on a white display table.
Weapons, money, and illicit drugs can be seen on a white table.
Weapons, money, and illicit drugs can be seen on a white table.
A variety of illicit drugs and two laptops can be seen on a white table.
A variety of illicit drugs and two laptops can be seen on a white table.

“Project Badminton disrupted a drug trafficking network that funneled cocaine and other drugs from British Columbia and Ontario into Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly to the West Coast and Northern Peninsula,” said Inspector Thoms. “The work of our investigators not only resulted in the disruption of this highly organized network but also in the laying of human trafficking charges for the first time by RCMP Newfoundland and Labrador. The diligence and exceptional work of the Project Badminton investigators in gathering the evidence to support these charges is commendable.”

Four residents of St. John’s were arrested and face multiple criminal charges.

Thirty-five-year-old Dominic Delisle is charged with the following criminal human trafficking charges:

Transportation for the Purpose of Exploitation

Exercising Control, Direction or Influence for the Purpose of Exploitation

Receiving Financial or other Material Benefit, obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from trafficking in persons

Receiving Financial Benefit from Sexual Services

“Human trafficking is a serious crime that impacts the most vulnerable people in our society, women in particular, and exists right here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Constable Colleen Noble. “Traffickers use manipulation, control, deception and violence or the threat of violence to coerce victims into providing sexual or other services for the direct profit of the trafficker. These perpetrators often identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the victims they prey on to gain power in the relationships. I commend Blue Door for the important work they do in supporting victims and we are very appreciative of the information and support they provided to Project Badminton.”

Angela Crockwell sees first hand the impacts of human trafficking on individuals preyed upon by traffickers.

“Human trafficking is occurring throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and has been for a long time,” said Ms. Crockwell. “Since 2017, Thrive’s Blue Door Program has supported 85 people who experienced sexual exploitation and/or trafficking, and many of these experiences occurred in many rural and remote parts of our province. There are many misconceptions about what sex trafficking looks like locally, therefore education and awareness are critical to ensure people affected can be identified and supported appropriately.”

In addition to criminal charges involving human trafficking, Delisle is charged with the following criminal offences:

Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Possession of a Weapon obtained by the Commission of an Offence

Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Firearm with Ammunition without Authorization of Licence

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm or Restricted Weapon while prohibited

Twenty-four-year-old Erik Mello is charged with the following criminal offences:

Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Possession of a Weapon obtained by the Commission of an Offence

Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Firearm with Ammunition without Authorization of Licence.

Further charges are expected for both Delisle and Mello.

Two other males face charges including Trafficking (Cocaine), Conspiracy to Traffick (Cocaine), and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Cocaine, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl).

Project Badminton resulted in the seizure of:

In excess of five kilograms of cocaine

3000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills laced with Fentanyl and THC (see Backgrounder below)

320 Supeudol (Oxycodone) pills

60 Dilaudid pills

$26,000 cash

Sixteen pounds of cannabis

A loaded semi-automatic restricted handgun with an extended magazine.

To learn more about how to recognize human trafficking, visit Recognizing human trafficking victims | Royal Canadian Mounted Police (rcmp-grc.gc.ca).

RCMP NL Federal Serious and Organized Crime targets criminal activity involving national security, transnational and serious organized crime and cyber crime throughout the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

BACKGROUND

Two St. John’s men facing multiple drugs and weapons charges following traffic stop by JFO West

Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador – Various items, including a handgun and a baggie containing a white substance, are shown laid on a desktop around a sign that reads RCMP-RNC JFO West Drug Unit.
Two St. John’s men are facing multiple drugs and weapons charges following a traffic stop conducted by the RCMP-RNC Joint Forces Operation West (JFO West) on the TransCanada Highway near Howley on August 4, 2022. During a search of the vehicle, assisted by RNC Police Dog Services, police located and seized a loaded handgun and a quantity of cocaine. The firearm was later determined to be stolen.

Various items, including a handgun and a baggie containing a white substance, are shown laid on a desktop around a sign that reads RCMP-RNC JFO West Drug Unit.
Various items, including a handgun and a baggie containing a white substance, are shown laid on a desktop around a sign that reads RCMP-RNC JFO West Drug Unit.

Thirty-five-year old Dominic Delisle of St. John’s was arrested and faces charges of drug trafficking and various weapons offences. He appeared in court yesterday and was released with a $10,000 surety and numerous conditions. Twenty-nine-year old Eric Mello, also of St. John’s, was arrested and faces charges of trafficking cocaine and various weapons charges. He was released from custody on conditions and is set to attend court at a later date. The investigation is continuing.

JFO West, which includes dedicated officers from both the RCMP and RNC, targets drug trafficking and organized crime on the west coast of the province.

NL RCMP

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