Valentino Pollastrini (dressed in black) is led into court Thursday. ((CBC))

An employee at an Italian restaurant in Ottawa is one of 51 people arrested Thursday in what Quebec police allege is a ring that imported cocaine from Mexico via Vancouver for distribution throughout Quebec.

Valentino (Nino) Pollastrini, who works at Ristorante Giovanni's on Preston Street, is alleged to be one of the leaders of the ring, said Crown prosecutor Sylvain Petitclerc, who named Roke Vaillant and Michel Lecompte as two other alleged leaders.

The three were among 21 people arrested in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Thirty others were arrested in Montreal, Petitclerc said.

He added that Crown lawyers have several books of wiretap transcripts and 15 DVDs of evidence supporting their case.

Most of the Ottawa-area suspects were to be back in court next week on charges that include participation in a criminal organization, trafficking cocaine, and counts related to the possession of firearms.


  • Valentino (Nino) Pollastrini is not the owner of Giovanni's Restaurant, as originally reported. In fact, Pollastrini is an employee at the restaurant.
    Feb 24, 2009 9:02 AM ET