Chinese man taken into Canada as human trafficker with Russian mafia, officials say

Police have charged a 29-year-old Toronto man with human trafficking in connection with a crack cocaine case that prosecutors allege involved members of the Russian mafia.

Hong Qui from Scarborough, Ontario, was arrested on Saturday and charged with one count of human trafficking, five counts of trafficking crack cocaine, one count of trafficking marijuana, one count of laundering proceeds of crime and one count of importation of tobacco or marijuana, according to the Toronto police.

On Wednesday, criminal charges were laid against four other people, including the alleged leader of the group and two of his associates.

Court documents released Thursday show Qui and Michael Coldwells allegedly convinced a man to travel to Canada from Hong Kong in May 2015. He was allegedly promised he would receive large amounts of money but never received them, according to police.

The documents allege the man was allegedly made to hand over his passport so Qui and Coldwells could arrange drug deals in Eastern Canada.

In November, police found the man in Scarborough and returned him to Hong Kong.

‘I had no choice but to cooperate’

Qui, along with Robert Palcic, Christopher Chen and Jonathan Pinail, was also charged with two counts of facilitating trafficking in drugs, possession of proceeds of crime and illicit entry into Canada, according to police.

Palcic, Pinail and Chen are all accused of taking over a group of associates involved in trafficking in drugs, court documents show. Chen and Palcic allegedly controlled the cocaine and the members of the Russian Mafia in Canada, while Pinail reportedly controlled the sale of illegal tobacco and marijuana.

Two Russian nationals were also charged with two counts of breach of recognizance, police said.

Palcic, the alleged head of the group, was arrested on Sunday and released the next day on conditions, according to court documents. He was expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Coldwells allegedly traveled to Canada in the fall of 2015 and helped recruit the victim. Both Chen and Pinail have been released on conditions.

“I had no choice but to cooperate because I did not want this man to leave the country and go to Moscow without me. I agreed to this so he will not flee the country,” the alleged victim told CNN in an email.

The alleged victim, whose identity has been kept anonymous for his safety, said they have known each other for many years and had traveled together to many places in Asia, Canada and Europe, but that he was led to believe the money and cocaine he would receive in Canada was to be shared.

However, the victim said he was never made to send money back to Russia. Court documents show the victim received about $400,000 while traveling and stayed in at least three hotels in Toronto.

Other criminal charges

Police also charged an eighth person, Yevgeny Davydov, with two counts of substance trafficking and two counts of facilitating the distribution of crack cocaine. Court documents allege he was a driver for the group.

According to police, officers executed six search warrants in Scarborough and Scarborough Town Centre in Ontario, Canada, and arrested seven people. They also seized $865,900, some 928 grams of crack cocaine, 27 grams of marijuana, 32 grams of ammonia, 170 grams of hashish, 115 grams of ecstasy, 600 joints of various varieties of crack cocaine, 17 grams of marijuana and 10 cigarettes of illicit tobacco and marijuana.

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