Operation Dead Hand

A massive drug seizure that occurred this month has unveiled a large-scale operation between Canada, the US, and Mexico. Roberto Scoppa, aged 55, is facing extradition to the US in relation to the seizure. The charge? Conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and other controlled substances from Mexico to the states and Canada.

Roberto carries a family name well-known in organized crime over the last decade. As the brother of the now-deceased Andrea ‘Andrew’ Scoppa and Salvatore Scoppa, it would be safe to guess that Roberto is no innocent man despite his flawless criminal record dented only once for uttering threats but later acquitted.

Andrew was one of the Montreal Mafia’s most influential leaders. In 2016, Andrew Scoppa, Salvatore Scoppa, and Victor Mirarchi, all leaders on the Calabrian side, decided to aim their sights on the Sicilian side of the family. Both Andrew and Salvatore succumbed to gunshot wounds in 2019.

The first of the two brothers to be murdered was Salvatore Scoppa, shot down in a Sheraton hotel parking lot in Laval on May 4th, 2019, at 10 pm. Salvatore was celebrating his son’s first communion at the time of the hit when an unknown acquaintance suggested they go outside. Once outside, the perpetrator unloaded two magazines at Salvatore. The acquaintance fled on foot. Salvatore was later rushed to the hospital and succumbed to his wounds later that night at the age of 49. Although, this wasn’t the first attempt on his life. He had survived a previous hit in February 2017, the hitman being Frederick Silva.

Andrew Scoppa had claimed he wasn’t on good terms with Salvatore. But he was later caught on a recording while at lunch with an informant and Dominic Scarfo, saying, ‘If I’m a shooter and I know Sal was outside with somebody -don’t know who this guy is- I’m shooting him too.’ Speculating the unknown acquaintance who suggested him and Salvatore go outside was in on the hit.

Then there was the murder of Andrew Scoppa just a few months later on October 19th, 2019, near 8 am. The hit occurred in front of a store while Andrew was entering a gym on 4744 Saint Jean Boulevard in the Pierrefonds borough. Both hits were believed to be set up as revenge killings by the Rizzuto family for several casualties that the Rizzuto family suffered in 2016.

Roberto appeared in court Tuesday afternoon. Although he was not physically present, he attended virtually through a video conference in front of Justice Pierre Labrie, while being detained at the Montreal Police South Operations Centre to fight his extradition request to the United States. His lawyer, Jose Guede, asked for the extradition case to be delayed until the 23rd of February 2024.

Roberto owned Location Tri Box, a recycling company that was awarded a $33,000 contract by the government in 2022. Although the company was not involved in illicit dealings, they were fined $10,000 for disposing of contaminated soil on agricultural land in Mirabel, Quebec in 2020.

The seizure is the result of a police project named ‘Operation Dead Hand’ that started in 2022. Authorities seized 951 kilograms of cocaine, 845 kilograms of methamphetamine, 20 kilograms of fentanyl, 4 kilograms of heroin along with $900,000 in cash. The wholesale value of the drugs sits between 16 and 28 million dollars.

Nineteen individuals, five of whom are Canadian, were charged as a result of the operation, including Roberto Scoppa. Seizures in Canada concerning this operation include 4 kilograms of heroin, 70 kilograms of cocaine, and $940,000 in cash.

The drugs were bought from Mexico. Mexican suppliers then brought the narcotics across the border to US distributors. There was a Canadian-based network of truckers who worked for various trucking companies and coordinated the transportation of the product across the border to Canada. Most times, they would use either the Buffalo Peace Bridge, the Blue Water Bridge, or the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel to get the drugs across the northern border.

Thirty-two-year-old Ivan Gravel Gonzalez, claiming to be a resident of both Montreal and the Dominican Republic, was another Canadian indicted and stood before Justice Pierre Labrie. Gonzalez and his lawyer also requested his case be delayed to February 23rd.

The intriguing aspect of Gonzalez being involved in this operation is the fact that he is charged with a different indictment along with 60-year-old Brampton resident Guramrit ‘King’ Sidhu. Sidhu is alleged to be the organizer, supervisor, manager, and orchestrator of the ring, with Gonzalez being part of the exportation side. The two other Canadians include Ayush Sharma, 25, also from Brampton, as well as Subham Kumar, 29, from Calgary.

The US v. Sandoval indictment includes 10 defendants;

-Jesus Ruiz Sandoval Jr., 45, of Guadalajara

-John Joe Soto, 42, of Guadalajara 

-Eduardo Carvajal, 50, of Guadalajara

-Roberto Scoppa, 55, of Montreal

-Ayush Sharma, 25, of Brampton

-Subham Kumar, 29, of Calgary

-Carlos Barragan, 51, of Long Beach

-Corell Carbajal Garcia, 38, of Hemet

-Humberto Luis Bermejo, 26, of Odessa

-Esteban Sinhue Mercado, 24, of San Jacinto

While the US v. Sidhu indictment includes 9 defendants;

-Guramit Sidhu, 60, of Brampton

-Ivan Gravel Gonzalez, 32, of Trois Rivières

-Daniel Antonio Trejo Huerta, 43, of Riverside

-Ignacio Lopez, 53, of Santa Ana

-Daniel Joseph Alan Herrera, 27, of Miami

-Orlando Velasco Jr., 29, of Stanton

-Angel Larry Sandoval, 32, of Bell Gardens

-Jorge Pina Nicols, 22, of Long Beach

-Bryan Ureta Valenzuela, 24, of Ontario, California

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