News

Clear Creek man guilty of trafficking

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

SIMCOE - 

The Crown has registered another conviction in an undercover probe of narcotics trafficking involving the Mexican Mennonite community.

Late Tuesday, a 12-member jury convicted Johan Thiessen, of Clear Creek, of possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking and possession of methamphetamine for the purposes of trafficking.

Charges against Thiessen’s wife Anna were dropped for lack of evidence.

“The quantities in this case were very large,” Crown attorney Jamie Pereira said this week.

“Approximately six kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of methamphetamine were seized from Mr. Thiessen’s residence when police executed a search warrant at his 1277 Lakeshore Road residence on May 13, 2014.”

This is the third conviction in recent months involving local Mexican Mennonites caught up in an undercover investigation known as Project Greymouth.

Drug-enforcement authorities became concerned about drug trafficking within this community in 2012 due to the large amounts of narcotics involved and possible connections to violent drug cartels in Mexico.

Some Mexican Mennonites living in southern Ontario with connections to their former homeland have been caught at the border smuggling large quantities of narcotics in hollow batteries and within the panelling of vehicles they were driving.

May 13, 2014 was a day of raids on individuals caught up in the Project Greymouth dragnet. Over the course of the investigation, police collected video and DNA evidence implicating several individuals in the trafficking conspiracy.

Last June, Abraham Klassen of Straffordville was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the scheme. Last September, his cousin Franz Klassen of Courtland was also sentenced to six years in prison.

Thiessen’s sentencing hearing will be held at the Norfolk County courthouse in Simcoe June 15.

Three separate court cases since last June have established that Franz Klassen sold narcotics to undercover police while Abraham Klassen served as the delivery man. The case involving Thiessen established his residence in Clear Creek as the location where the narcotics were stored.

Thiessen claimed he had no knowledge the Klassens were using his home as a storage facility. During their investigation, police uncovered text messages that suggested Thiessen knew what was going on. Thiessen’s lawyer tried to have this evidence ruled inadmissible but the court ruled to the contrary.

The transactions that led to the convictions occurred in the parking lots of the Tillsonburg Zehrs and Tim Hortons as well as a car wash in Courtland.

A total of 12 people were arrested as part of the Project Greymouth probe. Eight of them were from the Mexican Mennonite community in southwest Norfolk.

The cocaine seized in the Klassen-Thiessen case had a wholesale value of $228,000. The methamphetamine had a wholesale value of $30,000.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com