|Reza Amin and his trainer Desiree Ellis|
Blackberry messages reveal how drugs easily pass through Vancouver’s port
It’s not that hard, according to encrypted messages intercepted by police that detailed an exchange between one Vancouver man and the Ontario-based leader of a major international drug ring three years ago.
Mohamed Reza Amin Torabi told gang boss Nick Nero he had a contact person within the port who could control the movement of containers full of South American cocaine.
All he needed was the name of the company shipping the container to Canada and the actual container number, Amin Torabi explained.
“Hi bro. I am with my buddy. He is ready any time. All the ship come from south come to port here. I need transporter name and container number when U ready,” Amin Torabi, nicknamed ‘Big Guy,’ said in a May 2012 BlackBerry message.
A Vancouver Sun investigation has found at least 27 Hells Angels, associates, criminals and other gangsters work on the Port Metro Vancouver docks. And The Sun has obtained government and police documents that show an un-addressed organized crime problem on the waterfront dating back more than 20 years.
Details of the encrypted communications between Amin Torabi, Nero and others in their criminal organization illustrate the key role of the ports in the movement of drugs. The Sun obtained the transcripts from court documents filed for kingpin Nero’s sentencing hearing in Toronto last fall. He was handed a 22-year prison term in October 2014.
Police estimated that Nero was smuggling 400 kilograms of cocaine a week into Canada, worth about $1.9 billion a year.
Amin Torabi, now 51, had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine and received a seven-year prison term.
The documents don’t say how the two criminal associates began working together.
But The Sun has learned both men were active in bodybuilding competitions across Canada.
Amin Torabi, who was born in Tehran, was crowned Mr. Canada in 2000, as well as in the mid-‘90s. At the time, he boasted about having upper arms that were 22 inches in diameter and thighs that were 33 inches around. Nero placed seventh in the 2003 Canadian Bodybuilding Federation finals and once owned a gym in Niagara Falls.
Niagara Regional Police uncovered Nero’s massive drug smuggling ring, which led to arrests in three provinces in November 2012.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Clarkson said the smugglers established “various routes of transportation as well as smuggling into various ports of entry into Canada.”
“This criminal organization coordinated with a resourceful Mexican drug cartel to provide a high quality and constant supply of cocaine,” Clarkson told The Sun.
In the intercepted messages, Nero told another player in the drug ring that the cost to get the shipment through the Port of Vancouver was “25 per cent” of the value of the load.
“All we need is container #. Peru is direct to Vancouver,” Nero said in an email. “My ‘off’ says he will take it off no problem.” ‘Off’ is slang for a port connection who can off-load drugs.
Amin Torabi told Nero he didn’t want to say too much on the BlackBerry, but would fly to Toronto to meet him and make the arrangements. Police watched the two men as they met others in the criminal organization at a downtown Toronto steak house.
"All Good Amigo"
Nero later received a message from one of his Mexican cartel suppliers saying their “amigo” had a big machine that could be used to hide “50, 100 and 200 or more pieces” believed to be a reference to kilograms of cocaine that could then be shipped through the port.
“We can start next week,” Nero replied. “All good amigo.”
Nero was then told the cocaine could be shipped as liquid or in pieces inside the containers.
“I think pieces are better. Less work. We cash out faster. Also I don’t want issues with shares. Units are units. Every one gets what they pay for.”
Nero used several modes of transportation for the massive amounts of cocaine — including shipping containers to both the ports of Vancouver and Montreal.
He also had a private jet and flew cocaine into the U.S. and Canada. And much of the drug ring’s product was trucked across the border.
On May 10, 2012 Nero sent a message to Amin Torabi: “Hi bro. How are things with the port — are we ready?”
Amin Torabi responded: “Yes bro. We are ready. Please let me know where U sending from. Let me know. I am going see my guy today. It will be great work, bro.”
A week later, Nero contacted former Vancouver resident Robby Alkhalil, who also faces charges in connection with the Ontario drug ring.
Nero asked Alkhalil, whose nickname is TNT in the encrypted messages, if he wants in on a shipment from Argentina arriving at the port of Vancouver later in May.
Alkhalil replied “OK.”
Amin Torabi’s inside contact at the Port of Vancouver is not identified in the court documents obtained by The Sun.
But in other conversations, Nero said that he works with both the “Patch and Irish” — references to the Hells Angels and the West End gang in Montreal, which has influence in that city’s port. Nero also had an earlier conviction in Ontario for selling cocaine to Hells Angels.
Nero messaged another associate on his encrypted BlackBerry, asking him to pass along to the suppliers that “my partners in Mtl are strong too. They have the ports.”
Both Nero and Alkhalil also face first-degree murder charges in the June 2012 execution of Johnnie Raposo in Toronto’s Little Italy.
And Alkhalil, who was extradited from Greece in February, is charged with murder in the targeted shooting of gangster Sandip Duhre in Vancouver’s Wall Centre in January 2012.
Another stop on Alkhalil’s Canadian courthouse tour is Montreal where he faces more drug importation and trafficking charges.
One of his co-accused in that case is full-patch Hells Angel Larry Amero, of Surrey’s West Point chapter. Despite being in jail since November 2012 awaiting trial, Amero has maintained his membership in Metro Vancouver-based Local 502 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.