Saskatoon

Surveillance logs from drug bust court case reveal how crystal meth saturates mainstream Saskatoon

Court documents show the behind-the-scenes policework on one of the largest drug busts in Saskatoon history.

Wayne Ngai worked from apartment in Drinkle Building, home in Rosewood neighbourhood

The red dots indicate locations across Saskatoon where Wayne Ngai met with street dealers as part of a dial-a-dope operation. (CBC)

Wayne Ngai never did say where he got the 21 kilograms of meth.

The 31-year-old drug dealer kept his mouth shut when he got arrested two years ago in one of the largest busts in Saskatoon history.

Ngai stayed silent in provincial court, save for pleading guilty to drug trafficking.

He also declined multiple interview requests through lawyers to speak from his cell at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, where he is serving a 10-year sentence.

The Marion Graham Collegiate high school grad and one-time Navy reservist is not explaining how he went from studying commerce at university to stashing diamonds in a fridge freezer and $190,276 cash in a cookie tin under the stairs in his parents' basement.

Bricks of cash, bags of drugs. (Saskatoon Police Service)

While it's not known where the 21 kilos came from, it's crystal clear where it went. Drug cops clipped a GPS tracker onto his black Nissan Maxima and kept eyes on Ngai for two months as he trafficked the meth across the city.

On top of the methamphetamine, Ngai also moved thousands of fentanyl pills, kilos of cocaine and pounds of pot.

The surveillance records are part of an affidavit filed at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon. The Ministry of Justice is going after Ngai's property, claiming he bought a house on Avenue I S. with drug money.

In a statement of defence filed last year, Ngai and his family deny the allegations and say the house was bought legitimately. The civil case is still winding through the courts.

Ngai isn't talking but a map made using the routes he followed and the haunts he frequented tells a revealing story about drugs in Saskatoon.

It shows that meth is not confined to the city's core neighbourhoods or the downtown. The surveillance logs show the drugs were trafficked in the daytime in plain sight in familiar bars, restaurants, malls and suburbs. There is no suggestion that the businesses named in the affidavit were involved in drug trafficking.

It also reveals the tools of the drug trade, the amounts of cash involved and the mechanics of operating a sophisticated dial-a-dope drug operation.

"It's certainly the biggest file I've been involved in and I know a lot of the officers said it was the biggest file they've been involved in as well. So it was a very large bust," federal prosecutor Stephen Jordan said at Ngai's sentencing.

A hot tip

Wayne Ngai popped up on the police radar in April 2018. Someone tipped the drug team that Ngai was selling large amounts of fentanyl and using a black Nissan Maxima to drive to the deals.

On April 12, the tech crimes unit installed the GPS tracker on the Maxima and drug cops started following Ngai.

"Wayne met with 'K-L A' at the Green Ark furniture store on 22nd Street W. She is known to police as a fentanyl trafficker. Wayne and 'A' left the store together in the Nissan Maxima. Wayne dropped 'A' off in an alley near 113th Street and Rita Crescent," reads the first surveillance entry in the affidavit.

It's typical of what follows over the next two months.

Powder and pills. (Saskatoon Police Service)

April 26

Wayne leaves the house on Gillies Way carrying a blue and white backpack and a box.

Over the next few hours, he drives the city from east side to west. He meets "K-L A" at the Indigo/Starbucks on Eighth Street E. She spends a minute inside the Maxima with Ngai before leaving as a passenger in a green Dodge Ram.

She's dropped off near her house on Rita Crescent in Sutherland. Two other known fentanyl dealers are logged coming and going in the next hour.

Ngai is trailed from the east side bookstore to downtown. He ends up at the Drinkle Building on Third Avenue S.

He returns to the Canadian Brewhouse in Stonebridge. He has a brief parking lot meeting with an unknown man in a white Chevy Malibu.

April 28

"Wayne met with an Asian male driving a black Lexus SUV. The two entered Wing World [in Sutherland] together."

Ngai leaves in the Maxima. He makes a series of stops across the city.

A house on the 800 block of Labine Crescent; inside for 17 minutes.

An apartment on Cope Crescent in Stonebridge; inside for seven minutes.

A house on West Hampton Boulevard; inside for two hours.

A house on the 200 block of Montreal Avenue S.; inside for 10 minutes.

May 2

Police note Ngai leaving Goodlife Fitness at the Centre Mall driving the Nissan Maxima. He goes to the Hometown Diner at 210 20th Street West. He leaves by the back door of the restaurant carrying a box of brown bottles. There is no public access to this door.

A co-owner of the restaurants subsequently told CBC that Ngai was a cook at both, and that it is common for employees to make deliveries between the restaurants. The co-owner says the businesses were not contacted by police in regard to Ngai's arrest. The police logs do not suggest the businesses were involved in Ngai's drug dealing. 

Ngai goes back to the house on Gillies Way, where he carries the box of bottles into the house.

Later, he drops off a large container to an unknown person outside the back door of the Congress Beer House, located at 215 Second Ave. S. There is no public access to this door.

May 8

Wayne drives to the Congress Beer House in the Nissan Maxima. He leaves by the back door approximately 25 minutes later, then drives directly to the Hyundai dealership, located at 827 Melville St., where he meets with an unknown male.

"The two men removed three cardboard boxes from a Hyundai Santa Fe and loaded them into the Nissan Maxima's trunk. The unknown male ran into the dealership and returned with a black duffle bag that he put in the rear passenger seat."

The stash suite

The cops trailing Ngai's Nissan and the Hyundai Sante Fe move from surveillance to intervention on May 31.

They pull over the Santa Fe on 20th Street W. The SUV is searched and five baggies of powder cocaine are discovered along with three cell phones, $4,000 cash in an envelope and another $103,990 cash in a small bag.

The Nissan, driven by Wayne Ngai, is pulled over on Boychuk Drive.

Baggies to gp. (Saskatoon Police Service)

Inside, police find two cell phones, $165 in cash, four small bags of cocaine and a rent cheque for apartment 315 at the Drinkle Building.

Ngai is arrested and the house on Gillies Way in Rosewood, a southeast neighbourhood, and suite 315 in the Drinkle Building are both put under surveillance.

Within 24 hours, the cops have a warrant to raid the Drinkle apartment. They get into the suite just before 2 a.m. CST on June 1 and come across a haul of drugs and paraphernalia:

  • Two-and-a-half kilos of cocaine, in two solid bricks; another kilo of powder cocaine spread on a plate.
  • Three black garbage bags, with 18 kilograms of meth parcelled into 20 bags.
  • Thirty bags with 4,394 fentanyl pills.

They also seize scales, sifters, dextrose powder (used to dilute cocaine), two diamonds in a fridge freezer and an empty safe.

The cut house

At 3.a.m CST on June 1, the drug squad arrives at the house on Gillies Way. They let themselves in using keys from a keychain they took from Wayne.

They find his parents sleeping in a top floor room and his older brother in the basement.

In total, they find $304,231 in cash stashed throughout the house. This includes $190,276 in a cookie tin under the basement stairs, $50,000 in a safe and $33,850 in the bottom drawer of a dresser.

In Wayne's bedroom, they find a bag with 53 fentanyl pills in the top drawer of his dresser, 27 grams of cocaine in a second dresser, a duffle bag with two kilograms of marijuana by the window, a money counter and scale and a Popeye's bag with packaging material.

In total, police estimate the street value of the drugs between $958,000 and $2.5 million.

There is enough crystal meth for 213,000 individual sales at street level, when broken into the typical one-tenth of a gram points.

Connecting the dots

David Henry spent 30 years with the RCMP before moving to the Regina integrated drug unit and then the Ministry of Justice.

Henry went through the drug squad's evidence against Ngai and then wrote the affidavit to support the case for The Seizure of Criminal Property Act 2009 court action.

Cash, cash, cash. (Saskatoon Police Service)

Wayne Ngai, he wrote, was a mid-level supplier in a dial-a-dope operation and he ran the business using a "stash house" and a "cut house." Henry suggested that he used the Drinkle suite to store the bulk of the drugs, while he used the house on Gillies Way to prep them for sale.

"The separation of the methamphetamine found in suite 315 is also consistent with trafficking as a mid-level supplier," Henry wrote.

"In my opinion, the evidence suggests that Wayne was involved in both street level and mid-level trafficking; the levels of trafficking are not mutually exclusive."

Wayne Ngai pleaded guilty to trafficking and was sentenced seven months after his arrest. His lawyer said that he is remorseful and ashamed that he placed his family's properties at risk.

In his statement to police, Wayne Ngai's father maintained that he did not know his son was dealing drugs. 

"He had no idea about the drugs that were found in the house and had never seen them before. He stayed in the master bedroom and kitchen. The boys used all the other rooms," the father is quoted in Henry's affidavit.

He believed that Wayne worked at a restaurant, the affidavit said.

On Dec. 20, 2018, provincial court judge Marilyn Gray accepted the joint submission for a 10-year prison sentence.

An experienced judge, she noted that she'd not dealt with a sentencing before with this amount of money and drugs.

"Clearly, this was a high level, sophisticated operation."

Clarifications

  • Subsequent to publication, a co-owner of Congress Beer House and Hometown Diner told CBC that Wayne Ngai was a cook at those restaurants, and that they were never interviewed by police in regard to his arrest. That information has been added to this story.
    Jun 26, 2020 3:38 PM CT

About the Author

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

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