Almost two dozen people are facing several charges after a massive investigation led to a large network involved in importing drugs and guns into Manitoba. Police are also asking for help in locating two men wanted in connection to the investigation.
The Manitoba RCMP says the investigation began in 2018 after an RCMP criminal analyst noticed some trends regarding the international importation of drugs into Canada. "When investigators realized they were onto a large-scale domestic operation, Project Divergent was born," a press release from the RCMP says.
The investigation has resulted in hundreds of kilograms of drugs being seized, and nearly half a million dollars. Included in the seizures were 110 kg of cocaine, 41.4 kg of methamphetamine, and three kg of fentanyl.
“As we have seen in this province and in this country, deaths due to opioid overdose have been staggering,” said Inspector Grant Stephen, Officer in Charge of the Federal, Serious, and Organized Crime Section. “Project Divergent disrupted the supply chain and took these drugs off the street. The utter disregard for human life shown by those involved in these networks, specifically those at the top of the chain, became very clear during this investigation, and we were able to take them out of the equation.”
The RCMP were able to infiltrate the networks using a variety of techniques and uncovered a significant Canada-wide operation involving the trafficking of illicit drugs and firearms. Investigators began to see large-volume transactions happening with hard drugs as well as assault-style firearms and ammunition.
The RCMP also says that a connection with the Hells Angels was discovered. "On February 23, 2022, Damion Ryan, a full-patch Hells Angels member with the Attica chapter in Greece, was arrested in Ontario, which was a huge disruption to the supply chain of drugs and guns that he helped facilitate," the release says.
“This operation began right here in Manitoba and reached from Vancouver to Toronto, to Colombia, Greece, and the United States,” said Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, Commanding Officer of the Manitoba RCMP. “The scope and success of Project Divergent was possible because of the tenacity of our investigators and the incredible and unfailing support of our partners. We could not have done this without them.”
Two individuals are still at large and are wanted by police: Kieffer Michael Kramar, 30. He is from Winnipeg, but police believe he could be anywhere in Canada; and Denis Ivziku, 24, from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. It is believed he is still in that area.
Over a dozen agencies assisted the Manitoba RCMP in the investigation, from the Winkler Police Service, to the Colombian National Police and Hellenic Police in Greece.