Members of a multi-agency effort to curb drug smuggling between Canada and the United States have received a prestigious honor from the U.S. Department of Justice.
More than two dozen officers involved in "Operation White Rhino" have received the Department's "Outstanding Investigation Award."
A press release says that Operation White Rhino investigated a large-scale cocaine and ecstasy smuggling ring that trafficked drugs across the Canadian border into the U.S.
Officers from Great Falls and several other states as well as Canadian provinces were involved.
The investigation resulted in the seizure of 441 kilograms of cocaine, 29 kilograms of ecstasy, approximately $380,000, 12 vehicles, and the arrest of 17 people in the United States and Canada.
“The law enforcement professionals investigating and prosecuting this multi-agency international drug smuggling case overcame numerous operational challenges by maintaining a spirit of cooperation,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “Their flexibility allowed us to shut down a major drug trafficking organization that would otherwise still be in operation today. This should serve as a warning to other transnational criminal organizations that we will never let red tape stand in the way of justice.”
Mike Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, said, “This was truly a significant effort that took down a prolific and transnational drug trafficking organization. This was a particularly dynamic investigation that can serve as a model for how to investigate and prosecute transnational crime. This project was an example of open communication, cooperation and collaboration demonstrating the ability to work together to resolve complex, sensitive cross-border law enforcement issues.”
The investigation involved more than 100 law enforcement officers working in Canada and America, specifically Los Angeles, California, Great Falls, Montana, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Interior of British Columbia and South Western Saskatchewan.