March 13, 2020. Jaime Mejia-Bencardino, representative of a group of Colombian cocaine exporters, communicates with an individual so that he can help him transfer the money of a certain Dany from Quebec to Colombia. “You will send him the code: By Dany de el viejo (For Dany, from the old man),” Bencardino said to the individual.
The same day, this individual calls Dany and tells her that he will put him in contact with another man.
On March 19, this other man arranged to meet Dany in the parking lot of the Marché central in Montreal.
During the meeting, the man presents Dany with half of a $5 bill, a technique called a token used by traffickers to ensure the identity of the interlocutor.
Dany says he knows the ticket number by heart and, reassured, he gives the other a bag containing $560,000.
But Dany didn’t know it, the first person who called him was an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the man to whom he has just given the bag full of tickets is a double agent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Dany, real name Yan Trépanier, would later be arrested and charged with conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to possess drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
The tip of the iceberg
Trépanier, 51, of Laval, pleaded guilty to these two counts last November. He requested and obtained a deadline to finish a construction contract and was sentenced to three years in penitentiary by Judge Suzanne Costom of the Court of Quebec on Tuesday at the Montreal Courthouse.
Trépanier has no criminal history in Quebec but in 2011 he was sentenced to eight years in prison in the United States for a cocaine and money laundering case.
Recently, another of his accomplices, Andrew Barera, was sentenced to three years in prison for laundering the proceeds of crime.
He and Trépanier were arrested following an RCMP investigation called Carnet which targeted individuals suspected of laundering large sums of money from the sale of narcotics and transferring large amounts in order to finance cocaine imports.
More than one Loto Max prize
According to a court document obtained by The Press, on June 8, 2021, while he was wiretapped, Barera and another individual were talking about the 117 million Loto Max prize. The police heard him say, laughing, “that he launders hundreds of millions of dollars while staying with his in-laws.”
RCMP investigators suspected Barera and other individuals of using money changers and a company that owns about 100 ATMs to make money transfers.
They also suspected them of using, for the same reasons, several numbered companies and companies, which were in reality, according to the police, empty shells registered to nominees.
Among these companies, we find in particular holding companies and companies in the food industry which do not have a license, are not registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, do not have a file with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec and no vehicle registered with the SAAQ.
Other individuals were targeted and listened to in this investigation, but were not charged.
“Despite current laws regarding money services businesses, including Act respecting money services businesses (LESM) in Quebec, the financial system in Canada remains vulnerable to criminal groups using the private ATM industry to launder the proceeds of crime. For example, the lack of transparency of companies in relation to the beneficial owners has the effect of making it easier for criminal groups to use nominees, to cover the trail of funds actually used in the company and to disassociate themselves or legally distance as much as possible from the company, thereby making fraudulent schemes or money laundering activities very complex,” investigators write in a warrant, citing the report reviewing Canada’s anti-product recycling regime of crime and the financing of terrorist activities (2018).
“Illicit actors use a variety of means to attempt to hide their beneficial ownership information, including through shell companies, complex ownership structures, directors and nominees, trusts, bearer shares and other legal arrangements. These means often transcend international borders, blur audit trails and prevent law enforcement and competent authorities from obtaining the information necessary for illegal activities,” add the investigators, this time citing a report ( 2020) from the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada.
To contact Daniel Renaud, call 514 285-7000, ext. 4918, write to [email protected] or write to the postal address of The Press.