Montreal has a very long and sordid history with drug smuggling and trafficking, more than most might think. In fact, Montreal was the entry-port for heroin and many other substances during the 1950s, with the city's dominant mafia family controlling shipments and spiriting the goods away across North America.
But the city has served as an entrance point for drug smugglers long before, and after the 50s. From the early 1900s to the present day, drug traffickers and dealers have capitalized off of the city, and some of the stories behind their arrests are stranger than you'd think.
We've complied a list of fifteen of the most infamous (and ridiculous) drug busts in Montreal history below, some of which may truly surprise you.
The $1 Billion Cocaine Bust
When: November, 1992
450 kilometres north of Montreal, on a very small airstrip in Casey, Quebec, a plane headed to Canada, presumably from Florida, was forced land thanks to the intervention of the RCMP and US Customs, after a rather long chase, that is.
Three of the four individuals on the plane immediately booked it for the nearby woods as soon as the plane landed, and for good reason, because the aircraft was reported to have held 3, 000 kilograms of cocaine worth $1 billion. The three runaways were swiftly apprehended hours later.
Note, however, that there are some conflicting accounts of this drug bust. A Reuters article states that the amount of cocaine on the plane (that had all its passenger seats taken out with modified fuel tanks allowing for non-stop flights) was actually 4.1 US tons, or 3, 700 kilograms. Either way, this bust was (and largely still is) known as the biggest bust in Montreal/Quebc history.
The Drug Smuggling Florist Bust
When: February, 1985
Nothing is sacred when it comes to drug smuggling, even flowers. One rather industrious Montreal-based florist proved that fact when 32 boxes of cut flowers he was supposed to import from Miami were investigated by American customs agents, who were right to be suspicious, because the flower boxes contained 1, 124 kilos of cocaine worth $800 million.
Apparently the florist would import cut flowers several times a week, so the extent of his rather ingenious drug trafficking method could have been used numerous times.
The 1, 507 Pound Cocaine Bust
When: February, 1992
In a two-part bust the Quebec provincial police first raided a home in Vaudreuil, where they found 300 pounds of blow, then scored it big on their second raid when they hit a two-story home west of Montreal, where 1, 206 lbs of cocaine was found. Both raids added to a 1, 507 pound cocaine bust, with the drugs worth $460 million US at the time.
The "He Couldn't Wait To Start Smuggling" Bust
When: December, 1975
Literally as soon as the Mirabel International Airport began coordinating commercial flights, a drug bust was made. A gentleman headed from Amsterdam to Montreal was the inaugural Mirabel drug bust, apprehended with a suitcase containing 12 kilos of hash valued at $48, 000. Apparently airports don't get an easy first day from drug smugglers.
The London To Montreal Heroin Bust
When: June, 1985
Even though this bust didn't actually happen in Montreal, the drugs were intended to arrive in the city, so I think that warrants a spot on this list, especially given the volume of heroin that the smugglers tried to get here.
Organized by an Italian drug smuggling group, the 82 pounds of 85% heroin found by law enforcement officials was hidden inside a container on a cargo ship that traveled from Bangkok to Southhampton, with the end destination being Montreal.
The RCMP were ready for the fellas awaiting the shipment, who, after being arrested, led the mounties to another 49 pounds of heroin.
The Hash Bust That Had The Soviet Union & Canada Working Together
When: August, 1987
In a rather rare partnership against crime, the Soviet Union tipped off the RCMP about an incoming shipment of camel hair from Afghanistan that actually contained hashish. The Soviets were right, and a whopping total of 5+ tons of hash worth $100 million was found, with five Montreal men arrested charged with conspiracy to import and and traffic drugs.
The 43 Tonnes Of Hash Bust
When: April, 2012
A mere three years ago, three Montrealers were arrested in connection to a gigantic international drug operation, with over 43 tonnes of hash confiscated by law enforcement officials. During the two-year operation, the RCMP found the drug network to include agents in Belgium, the US, Pakistan, and of course, Montreal, where hash shipments would ultimately be sent.
According to an RCMP official, the amount of hash seized "could have supplied every resident of a city of 10,000 with a daily dose [of hash] for more than 11 years." In other words, it was a hell of a lot of hash.
The Reverse Drug Bust That Happened Right Under The Police's Noses
When: January, 1921
I guess the police weren't exactly at the height of their game back in the 20s, because one Montrealer (likely with the help of others) was able to steal morphine, cocaine, and heroin valued at $100, 000 right from the Montreal court house. A newspaper article from the time states that the police knew who perpetrated the courthouse theft, but needed to wait to ensure they could actually recover the stolen drugs.
The Cocaine-Smuggling Schoolteachers Bust
When: March, 1981
Anyone can be a drug dealer, even seemingly kindhearted schoolteachers, as this Montreal drug bust proves. Part of a dual-bust in Lima and Montreal targeting a rather large international cocaine smuggling ring, two Montreal schoolteachers aged 37 and 39 were charged with complicity to the operation. Also worth noting, because it's an oddly badass moment for the elderly, is the 60-year-old Quebecer who was arrested in Lima in connection to the drug trafficking gang.
The 530 Pounds Of Cocaine Bust
When: April, 1991
In a warehouse just outside of Montreal, police found a series of metal drums (marked castor oil, of course) that were filled with 530 pounds of cocaine. The police knew about the stash for a total of two months, actually, and waited for someone to claim the goods, which they never did.
The Guy Who Made It Super Easy By Wandering Outside Naked Bust
When: February, 1911
Here we have what may be the first recorded instance someone not following the drug dealer oath "don't get high off your own supply," which may have led to the creation of the slogan itself.
Way back when in 1911, three cocaine dealers were sent to jail after one of them was found wandering the streets half-naked, and was allegedly "crazed" after a cocaine binge. Maybe dealers back in the day didn't have to be as secretive, but this guy definitely didn't have his shit together.
The "Keys Left In The Trunk" Bust
When: December, 1985
Yet another moment of drug dealer tomfoolery, this drug bust of 23 kilograms of cocaine occurred pretty much because the guy kept his keys in his trunk. While the convicted drug dealer was driving his car around, with the 23 kilos of blow in tow, another driver got a little suspicious after seeing his keys still in the trunk and alerted the local police. The cocaine itself was worth $20 million on the streets, so shame on the guy for being so careless anyway.
The 244 Kilos Of Cocaine Bust
When: February 2014
Drug smuggling in Montreal's ports is an industry that's alive and well, as this 2014 drug bust showcases. About a year ago, the Canada Border Services Agency Intelligence Unit targeted containers coming from Paraguay, having been tipped off by international authorities. While the declared goods listed the containers as "scrap metal," an X-ray inspection revealed a suspicious "dense mass" at the back of 16 different metal containers. In total, 244 kilograms of cocaine was found.
The Hidden Between Hammocks Bust
When: April, 1991
One of the largest drug busts in Canadian history (for the time) occurred at the Mirabel airport in 1991, when law enforcement officials found 545 kilos stashed between hammocks on a flight headed from Colombia to Montreal. No one ever came to pick the cocaine as the police had hoped, and so the smugglers were never apprehended. What a waste though.
The Drug Dealing Pizza Service Bust
When: March 2015
Technically this drug bust occurred outside of Montreal, specifically in the Montérégie region, but its just so ingenious that I felt the need to tell y'all about it.
Turning the mundane into criminal, a group of eight individuals turned a simple restaurant into a drug delivery service. Employees involved with the operation would get calls to deliver food, then on the way would make another short trip to drop off some drugs to one of their customers.
Keeping everything organized, the group allegedly had a list for folks who wanted food and those who wanted drugs. Given that they were apprehended with two kilos of cannabis, there was probably some crossover on that list.
Other substances seized included shrooms, Viagra, and 1, 000 pills, though the Gazette didn't point of what kinds.