The judge will decide in April on Roberto Scoppa’s bail

Scoppa was arrested in late January at the request of the US government that he be extradited there to face drug trafficking charges.

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A Quebec Superior Court judge will decide next week whether Roberto Scoppa, the brother of two deceased Montreal mafia leaders, should be released on bail while he contests a U.S. government extradition request in an alleged smuggling case. of drugs between Mexico and Canada.

The question of whether Scoppa will remain in Montreal during that challenge was the focus of a hearing Thursday, particularly over the use of a GPS tracking bracelet.

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Scoppa, 55, has been detained since late January, when he was arrested in Montreal at the request of US authorities to extradite him there to face drug trafficking charges following an investigation dubbed Operation Dead Hand.

The investigation focused on members of an organized crime syndicate who allegedly conspired to traffic and import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and other drugs from Mexico through Los Angeles for export to Canada or distribution throughout the United States.

Nine other people were arrested in the United States in January and search warrants were executed in cities across North America, including Toronto and Calgary.

For two days this week in the Montreal courtroom, Judge Marc-André Blanchard heard arguments on the release of Scoppa, the brother of Andrea (Andrew) and Salvatore, murdered on different dates in 2019 in Pierrefonds and Laval respectively.

During a press conference on Operation Dead Hand held by US authorities in Los Angeles in January, Roberto Scoppa was referred to as “an associate of the Italian mafia in Montreal.”

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According to evidence heard during a bail hearing Tuesday, Scoppa told an informant working undercover in Operation Dead Hand that he makes $1 million a year smuggling 100 kilograms of cocaine into Canada a month.

Scoppa’s attorney, Jeffrey Boro, has offered several conditions that Scoppa is willing to follow in order to be released, including a curfew and a promise that he will wear a GPS tracking bracelet around his ankle at all times while contesting the request for release. extradition.

Erin Morgan, a lawyer representing Canada’s Justice Minister, said the Crown opposes Scoppa’s release because they consider him a flight risk.

“The device does not restrict the movement of the person wearing it. It doesn’t help locate them if they decide to flee. It is simply a way to deter the individual, but it cannot stop him,” he said, referring to cases in which people managed to remove a bracelet. “It’s not infallible.”

On Thursday, Vince Morelli, president and owner of SafeTracks, the company that would supply the bracelet, testified about how they work. Via video conference from Red Deer, Alta., he said the company has been supplying the devices since 2009.

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One of SafeTracks’ divisions supplies technology and devices to government organizations, including the Canada Border Services Agency.

Morelli said Scoppa’s anklet would have sensors with fiber optics running through the strap. He would follow his movements between a series of addresses in Montreal while working in the construction industry.

“We need to make sure (the sensors on the strap are) doing a complete cycle, so if the individual tries to cut it, the fiber optic cycle is interrupted and we get an alert. The system works quite well,” Morelli said.

While answering Morgan’s questions, Morelli said that in the event someone cuts the leash, SafeTracks notifies the local law enforcement agency.

“How quickly they respond is up to them,” Morelli said. “We have a good relationship with many police divisions across Canada, but that is not a guarantee.”

In Scoppa’s case, the RCMP would be reported if he removed the bracelet and ran away.

Morelli could not say whether anyone monitored by SafeTracks in Quebec had cut their ankle bracelet in the past two years.

Blanchard said he will deliver his decision on April 5.

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