Three men from out of province have been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine after a drug seizure in the Port of Halifax earlier this month.
Divers inspected a ship docked at the Halterm Container Terminal on June 9 and found approximately 150 kilograms of cocaine hidden on the bottom of the vessel, sources in the justice system told The Chronicle Herald.
Three suspects allegedly had diving equipment with them when they were arrested near the container terminal.
The accused are identified in court records as Matthew Ryan Lambert, 34, of Richmond, B.C.; Dangis Seinauskas, 46, of Ajax, Ont; and Darcy Peter Bailey, 46, of Fort St. John, B.C. The trio were arraigned in Halifax provincial court June 11 on a charge of conspiring together or with others to import cocaine into Canada.
They were represented by duty counsel that day and again June 14 but had retained private lawyers for their third appearance June 20. Joel Pink represented Lambert, while Stan MacDonald spoke for Seinauskas and Patrick MacEwen appeared with Bailey.
The men are due back in court next week for a bail hearing.
None of the defence lawyers wished to comment on the case other than to say very little evidence has been disclosed to them by the Crown.
Prosecutor Jeff Moors also refused to provide any details about the seizure in advance of the bail hearing.
Sources said the cocaine was discovered on the Arica, a Liberian-registered container ship that docked in Montreal before stopping in Halifax.
The drugs were wrapped in plastic and concealed in the ship’s sea chest, a recess on the bottom of the vessel through which ocean water is drawn in for cooling, firefighting and other purposes. Most sea chests are protected by a removable grating.
RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency officers were involved in the seizure.
“There is an ongoing investigation and charges have been laid,” Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman, said Tuesday.
“We’re not in a position to share anything further at this time.”
Clarke said she didn’t know when she would be able to release more information about the bust.
This is the second big cocaine seizure in Nova Scotia waters in just over nine months.
Last Sept. 3, a sailboat captain was caught smuggling about 250 kilograms of coke into the country on his vessel.
Jacques Grenier, 69, lived on his 9.14-metre boat at East River Marine in Lunenburg County. He was arrested at the marina after sailing the vessel solo from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean.
Grenier pleaded guilty to charges of importation and possession for the purpose of trafficking and was sentenced in April to 13 years in prison.
An RCMP expert testified at Grenier’s sentencing hearing that the coke had a purity of between 72 and 84 per cent. He said the drugs were probably purchased for about $3 million from a Mexican drug cartel and had an estimated street value of $20 million.
Luc Chevrefils, 59, of Saint-Zotique, Que., was also charged in that case. He is scheduled to stand trial in Halifax provincial court in August.