Landlord guilty in Canada’s largest carfentanil haul found in basement

Landlord guilty in Canada’s largest carfentanil haul found in basement

Breadcrumb Trail Links Toronto & GTA Police Evidence photo of powdered carfentanil, under 42 kilograms, seized from a Pickering basement apartment on September 20, 2017. Photo of handout content of the article

He knew there was a death factory operating in his basement.

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An Oshawa man charged with the largest carfentanil bust in Canadian history has been found guilty of possessing and aiding his pal’s massive drug operation in the basement of the Pickering semi-detached house he owned.

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“Maisum Ansari has attempted to disguise his role in this company,” Supreme Court Justice Hugh O’Connell said in a rambling ruling that lasted most of Wednesday. “He knew exactly what was going on.”

The Karachi native, who showed little emotion after the final verdict, was told to turn over his travel documents to his attorney Leora Shemesh while he remains on bail pending his hearing at the hearing. The court heard the Crown could seek a life sentence.

Everything came crashing down for the father of three after the renter of his upstairs phone called 911 on September 20, 2017 when the carbon monoxide alarm went off in the middle of the night.

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When firefighters got to the Pickering home, they found what appeared to be a working drug lab in the unoccupied basement, complete with nine baking trays filled with a white, chalky substance that lab results would confirm was the deadly opioid caffeine with a potential street value of more than $16 million.

Police also discovered a black duffel bag in a closet filled with 33 vacuum-sealed firearms, including a TEC-9 fully automatic submachine gun and nine overcapacity magazines.

The attack was frightening.

When the Drug Enforcement Agency made its first carfentanil bust in New York in 2008, its warning was blunt: “Carfentanil is death.” Used in veterinary medicine to tranquilize large animals like elephants and rhinos, it can be 100 times more toxic than fentanyl , and ingestion of even a grain or two for humans can be fatal.

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The judge was convinced Ansari had given the keys to his basement to his friend and “brother” Babar Ali, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of more than 26 kilograms of carfentanil and 33 weapons last year and was fined $1 million. The previous tenant in the house had been their mutual friend Fahad Hussain, who grew up with them in Thorncliffe Park and was the brother of Faisal Hussain, the Danforth gunman who killed two and then himself in 2018.

Ansari had served as Fahad’s guarantor until Fahad overdosed in 2017 and was left in a vegetative state.

O’Connell agreed with the Crown that Ansari was “very aware” of what Ali was doing at his rented home.

“The basement is basically a drug lab,” the judge said. “There is a wealth of evidence to suggest he had knowledge of and control over the drugs and weapons that were there.

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When Ansari was first questioned by police, he claimed he had rented the basement to a man named Waseem Khan. But when the defense reopened their case last year so he could comment, Ansari admitted that Khan was a fictional person he created so he wouldn’t implicate Ali because he was petrified in front of him.

O’Connell said he doesn’t think Ansari is scared of Ali, but that he “weaves a good story” and that it’s a “complete and utter fabrication” for self-isolation. “I completely reject his claim that he was threatened by Babar Ali.”

Ansari’s upstairs tenant had testified that she noticed the basement window of the Pickering house was open, closed it, and texted Ansari. Hours later, she was awakened by the carbon monoxide alarm, but when she called her landlord, he was upset and told her it was just a low battery and that she shouldn’t have alerted first responders. “Get rid of her, get rid of her,” she recalled as he told her.

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No wonder he didn’t want them to come.

Ansari’s lawyers had argued that there was no forensic evidence at the crime scene linking Ansari to the drugs and weapons, and insisted that the Crown’s case was based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.

But O’Connell didn’t think Ansari’s story made any sense, and his messages with Ali showed the friends trying to protect each other from someone discovering the cache in the Pickering basement.

Following his verdict, Shemesh informed the judge that she would file a Section 11b motion under the charter. “The defense has waited 10 months for Your Honor’s decision…it has taken too long.”

The motion is expected to be discussed later this month.

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