Seven people have been arrested following a seven-month police operation that netted assault rifles, handguns and more than $1.7 million in illicit drugs and led to 83 charges against a stateless Ottawa man.
Project Landslide was intended to break up an "illegal weapons and drug operation" in the Ottawa area, Ontario Provincial Police said in a statement Wednesday.
The operation began in May and involved OPP and both the Ottawa and Gatineau police services.
Among the seven people charged is Deepan Budlakoti, a stateless 28-year-old man born to Indian nationals who were working for the Indian High Commission in Ottawa.
The remainder of the accused include five people from Clarence-Rockland, Ont., and one Gatineau resident. They all face multiple charges related to the possession and trafficking of drugs and firearms.
The youngest is 23, while the oldest is 64. Six men and one woman were charged.
Submachine gun, bayonet seized
At a press conference Wednesday, police displayed some of the firearms they seized during the operation, including:
- An AK-47 and an AR-15 assault rifle, both with high-capacity magazines.
- A semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet.
- A submachine gun
- Six handguns.
Police also seized cocaine, methamphetamine pills and marijuana worth roughly $1.7 million, as well as more than $150,000 in cash. Several of the accused have already appeared in court.
The seven people charged were not necessarily all working together, said OPP Chief Supt. John Sullivan.
Budlakoti convicted in 2010
The Canada Border Services Agency had ordered Budlakoti to be removed from Canada after he was convicted in 2010 of weapons trafficking, possession of a firearm and drug trafficking.
He was sentenced to three years in prison for those offences.
The investigation found Budlakoti was a permanent resident, not a Canadian citizen, and therefore inadmissible to Canada because of the "serious criminality" involved in his offences.
However, Budlakoti disputed his parents' employment status at the time of his birth in 1989, arguing they had stopped working for the Indian High Commission two months before he was born — and therefore were not diplomats.
He has remained a stateless man since the Supreme Court dismissed his fight for Canadian citizenship on Jan. 28, 2016.