Police arrest four people in multimillion-dollar money laundering operation
We have charged three men and one woman who are believed to be responsible for the production and illegal sale of anabolic steroids over the course of eight years, resulting in an illegal profit of more than $9 million.
Between 2015 and 2023, it is believed the owner and operators of Pareto Pharmaceuticals, an anabolic steroid business, acquired millions in sales and then laundered the money through cryptocurrency and real estate investments.
Police began investigating the money-laundering allegations in December 2020.
Money-laundering investigations are often complex and require time to establish and prove a predicate offence that the laundered proceeds of crime are derived from.
The production and sale of anabolic steroids is prohibited by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and the other bodybuilding products being sold by Pareto Pharmaceuticals are restricted by the Food and Drugs Act. The products were being sold online on the websites paretopharmaceuticals.com and paretopharma.com, as well as through online sales representatives and in gyms.
After analyzing more than 150 bank accounts connected to the Pareto Pharmaceuticals business, investigators determined the money was laundered through the use of multiple bank accounts and securities investments belonging to the accused and their shell companies. Money derived from the Pareto Pharmaceuticals business was also converted into various cryptocurrencies, which was then used for the purchase and sale real estate. This process allowed for the reintegration of the funds into the banking system as “clean money.”
During the investigation, police located a manufacturing lab where pills and injectables were being made illegally. Raw anabolic steroids and other supplies were internationally shipped to Calgary using fake names and picked up by the suspects using fake identity documents. These supplies were then taken to the lab and manufactured into Pareto Pharmaceuticals products, packaged and distributed Canada-wide.
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, search warrants were executed at various locations throughout Calgary and Chestermere, including four vehicles, and at one location in Vancouver. As a result, a variety of drugs and drug-related products were seized, with a combined street value of approximately $7 million, including:
- 82.3 kilograms of raw anabolic steroid powder with an approximate street value of $4 million
- 3,174 vials of ready-to-sell anabolic steroid with an approximate street value of $317,000
- 233,388 individual anabolic steroid pills, packaged and ready-to-sell, with an approximate street value of $350,000
- 355,643 individual Food and Drugs Act regulated pills, packaged and ready-to-sell, with an approximate street value of $533,000
- 29 kilograms of raw powder of Food and Drugs Act regulated substances, with an approximate street value of $1.74 million
- 289 kilograms and 70 litres of other raw powders and liquids used in the production of Pareto Pharmaceuticals products
- Various drug-manufacturing paraphernalia
Other seized items that are believed to be the proceeds of crime included $589,585 in Canadian currency and approximately $500,000 worth of jewelry.
As a result, Fraser LANDEEN, 33, of Vancouver, B.C., George Elias HADDAD, 33, and Spencer Jonathon RIVERS, 29, both of Calgary, are all charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, laundering the proceeds of crime, trafficking of a controlled substance, possession of proceeds of crime, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance.
Angela LI, 28, of Calgary, is charged with trafficking of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, possession of the proceeds of crime and production of a controlled substance.
All four of the accused are scheduled to next appear in court on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.
“Identifying sources of illicit income often leads to the revelation of other criminal activity and networks used to perpetuate elaborate crimes,” says Staff Sergeant Geoff Gawlinski of the Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit. “This was a sophisticated money-laundering operation that required extensive time, resources and collaboration with other agencies to thoroughly investigate so that the necessary evidence could be collected, and the right people held accountable.”
The Calgary Police Service would like to thank the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department, Chainalysis, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the Forensic Accounting Management Group (FAMG) and accounting software provider Altia for their assistance in helping us advance this investigation.
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