A Mafia bust — believed to be the biggest in the Canadian province of Ontario — has resulted in 15 arrests and the seizure of homes and sports cars worth $33 million.
“Project Sindicato” targeted the Figliomeni crime family which has links to Italy’s notorious ‘Ndrangehta Mafia clan in Italy, York Regional Police announced Thursday.
“(The Figliomeni crime family) has benefitted from generations of crime to live a glamorous and indulgent lifestyle at the expense of law-abiding citizens,” Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said, according to the Toronto Sun. “We have dismantled the financial structure of this organized crime organization both here and in Italy.”
The investigation led to separate arrests of 12 individuals in Calabria, Italy, according to CTV News. Those arrests were announced Wednesday by Italian State Police.
York Police launched the investigation 18 months ago in response to a spike in shootings and arsons in Vaughan, a city north of Toronto, CTV reported.
Those arrested were accused of operating nearly a dozen illegal backroom gambling dens in various cafes and extending loans to tapped-out gamblers at extortionate rates who were then threatened with harm if they didn’t pay up, CTV reported.
The arrests included the reputed head of the crime family, Angelo Figliomeni, who was charged with directing a criminal organization, money laundering and fraud, police said.
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Canada’s biggest pharmacy chain is hoping to be the first in the country to sell legal medical marijuana over the counter. Shoppers Drug Mart has confirmed that it applied to the Canadian government earlier this year to become a licensed medical marijuana distributer.
In email statement Tuesday, Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Tammy Smitham confirmed the news adding, “We have no intention of producing medical marijuana, but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counseling from a pharmacist.”
Under Canadian federal law, patients with prescriptions are only able to purchase medical marijuana directly from one of a few dozen licensed producers. Producers are required to securely ship pot directly to the patient by mail order only.
“We believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” explained Smitham. “We are hoping that the Government of Canada will revise the current regulations to allow for the dispensing of medical marijuana at pharmacy.”
In August, the Canadian Pharmacist Association argued in favor of clinical oversight from pharmacists to minimize harms associated with use of all forms of marijuana in its submission to the federal task force studying marijuana legalization and regulation.