Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Inside FBI Undercover Operation 'Dead Hand' Targeting Montreal Mafia & CJNG Traffickers

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

From National Post by Adrian Humphreys

It took several texts and a few photos sent on Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to tell the driver where to deliver his load. It was heading to a Montreal warehouse on Park Avenue, near Autoroute 40, but it’s tricky finding where to turn into the garage.

The day before, on Dec. 1, 2022, the driver allegedly sent a text from the cab of his tractor-trailer, “Just crossed the border… see u in [the] evening.

The driver had also allegedly been sent a photograph of a Canadian $20 bill showing its serial number: FYW3742405. This is underworld two-factor authentication — he wasn’t to hand over the load unless someone at the warehouse first gave him that very same $20 bill.

He had been on the road for days, steering a big rig from Los Angeles, where he had allegedly picked up 4 kilograms of heroin and 15 kilos of cocaine. He found the warehouse at 3:18 p.m. and pulled over when a man waiting outside walked up and leaned through his window.

That’s when RCMP officers pounced. Cops had been hiding outside the warehouse for 50 minutes. They arrested the driver and the man who came to meet him. The driver was still clutching a $20 bill when he was grabbed. An officer looked at the serial number: FYW3742405, the very bill needed to unlock the transaction, according to FBI allegations in recently unsealed court documents.

Inside the vehicle, police say they found tightly wrapped bricks of heroin and cocaine. The longer the wait the more their questions ate up a group chat.

Someone sent a message to "shut up." Something was wrong.

Montreal Mafia (Calabrian Faction) and Scoppa brother Roberto Scoppa.

Bro calm down please.” The FBI alleges the message was sent by Roberto Scoppa, the brother of two murdered leaders in the Calabrian faction of the Montreal Mafia. Scoppa is one of 19 men named in U.S. federal indictments that were unsealed with great fanfare on January 30, 2024.

American authorities say their investigation shut down two separate but related drug rings moving large quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin from Mexico to Los Angeles, and then smuggling it into Canada. One network was feeding Quebec and the other Ontario.

Truck Driver Turned FBI Undercover Informant

Canadian police had their eyes on an Edmonton man named Sam Nang Bou in the summer of 2021, when Bou was quietly moving cocaine and meth from California into Canada using long-haul truck drivers.

Bou, like traffickers before and after him, grasped the economic law of cocaine and meth: The further they’re moved from their source, the more valuable they become. Successfully siphoning a trickle from the flood crossing America’s southern border with Mexico and moving it across its northern border with Canada adds great value, enough to make you rich.

Bou wanted to be rich and was scaling up to include drug warehouses in suburbs around Los Angeles, from which he doled dope to a network of truck drivers to haul north.

In August 2021, the RCMP told American cops about Bou, and a narcotics suppression team in Orange County started watching a low-rise condo in Alhambra, east of downtown L.A.

The cops watched Bou drive rental cars around town collecting boxes and bags before meeting up with truck drivers; and they watched the drivers hide those boxes and bags in their 18-wheelers, some with Canadian license plates and some registered in California. The truckers then headed north on the web of interstate highways.

Police in California followed some of the trucks and after each one entered a neighboring state they asked local police to pull it over for suspected traffic infractions and to search it. Drugs were found on all of them: between 50 and 200 kilos of cocaine unless it was 200 kilos or more of meth.

Bou drove a Dodge Caravan with hidden compartments to transport the drugs from stash houses to the truck drivers.

Bou was arrested in September 2022 and was facing cocaine distribution charges in California. He pleaded guilty and was given 6 years in federal prison, the day before the FBI raids and broad indictment was announced. 

It seemed a big case, one investigators could dine out on, but Bou ended up being just the appetizer because one of the traffic stops had an unexpected ending.

When police pulled over a truck in 2021, a stash of drugs was found and the driver was arrested, as was expected, but after the highway stop, behind closed doors, charges against the driver disappeared, and immigration benefits were dangled, according to an FBI warrant application.

In return, the driver agreed to work as an informant.

He remade himself. He became a sneaky, bold undercover snitch spinning two narco networks in circles, gathering evidence for the FBI while gaining such trust from his targets he could pull off audacious and dangerous meetings with alleged bosses inside their Mexico.

Going Undercover

The FBI’s new snitch, or “confidential human source” as he is called in U.S. documents, told agents he didn’t work for Bou. Bou was just one distributor. The boss, he claimed, was someone else in Canada, a man known as “King”, identified as Guramrit Sidhu, a 60-year-old businessman in Brampton, Ont., according to U.S. allegations filed in court.

U.S. documents, including grand jury indictments and lengthy affidavits sworn by FBI agents summarizing their operations, were obtained by the National Post. The allegations contained in the documents have not yet been tested in court.

The informant told the feds that before his own arrest, Sidhu told him to contact a man nicknamed “Primo” to arrange cocaine pickups around Los Angeles. Primo was later allegedly identified as Eduardo Carvajal, 50, of Guadalajara, Mexico.

What allegedly emerged from the partnership was an active network of truck drivers shuttling drugs from California into Ontario, using the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, the Peace Bridge in Niagara, and the Blue Water Bridge connecting Michigan to Sarnia.

The snitch was a natural at logistics, and others wanted him to arrange their transportation as well, making him a trusted cog in overlapping drug smuggling machines. Once he started working for the FBI, he was told to get back into business while guarding his heavy secret.

10 kilograms of cocaine were allegedly given to the Informant as payment by Eduardo Carvajal and delivered by Carlos Barragan in March 2023. 

Using an FBI-monitored phone, the informant’s first call, on Sept. 3, 2022, was to a man in Mexico who had earlier been in one of his Signal group chats, where he was known as “Gucci.” End-to-end encrypted messaging can be great at holding secrets, but not if one of the ends is compromised. 

John Joe "Gucci" Soto of Guadalajara.

Gucci asked the informant to move 100 kilos of cocaine from L.A. to Baltimore; the FBI alleges that Gucci is really John Joe Soto, 42, of Guadalajara, Mexico.

The informant next needed a truck driver for the job. For that, he allegedly messaged a man identified by the FBI as Subham Kumar, 29, of Calgary. The informant said he had worked with him before.

Bro whenever you have time send me the token,” the informant texted. The Token is a unique serial number on a banknote used to confirm identity at drop-offs, the FBI says.

Kumar allegedly sent the informant a photo of a U.S. dollar bill showing serial number G43659809B and said a flight was booked from Calgary to L.A. the next day. The informant forwarded the serial number to Soto.

Perfecto bro,” was the reply, authorities say.

U.S. Customs monitored a Sept. 5, 2022, flight from Canada that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Kumar rented a Toyota Corolla while surveillance teams set up around the planned meeting spot in El Segundo, just south of the airport.

Officers watched Kumar and another man move items from one vehicle to another, according to U.S. allegations. Kumar was given the address of a Best Western in Baltimore and a new banknote serial number, and off he drove, the FBI says.

Kumar is alleged to have made another pickup, in Hemet, California, from a man who arrived in a Honda Accord. When agents ran the plate of the Honda, they found it was registered to Corell Carbajal Garcia. Two weeks after the Hemet handoff, police raided Garcia’s home. They allegedly found cocaine and $80,000 cash in a safe, but also something more intriguing.

The 71 bricks of cocaine allegedly found in Corell Carbajal Garcia’s house in September 2022.

"Car Parts" Ledger

There was a notebook used as a ledger for “Partes de Carros,” Spanish for “car parts.” Notes inside it tracked items coming in and going out. There was an outgoing delivery written for the date of the Hemet meeting, along with the dollar bill serial number used for the exchange. There were 20 other deliveries written in the ledger, authorities say, totaling 530 units. Another page listed items received, totaling 601.

Corell Carbajal Garcia

Agents believe "car parts" is code for cocaine 530 is the number of kilos Garcia had delivered and 601 is the number of kilos he was given to distribute. The difference between the units received and those delivered was 71. Agents counted the bricks of cocaine in the house...there were 71.

In November 2022, Carvajal, the man the informant called "Primo" contacted the informant to arrange a haul to Montreal, according to U.S. allegations.

“Bro I’m ready,” he texted.

Carvajal allegedly told the informant, on a phone call recorded by the FBI, about his partner, a man he called “The Italian.” He described him as a good friend from Canada who spent his winters in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“The Italian,” the FBI alleges, was later identified as Roberto Scoppa.

Scoppa has no criminal convictions and is the owner of a Quebec recycling firm. However, he shares a notorious family name. His brothers Andrea (Andrew) Scoppa and Salvatore Scoppa were influential Mafia leaders in Montreal before they were killed in 2019 during a mob war.

Canadian trucker Ayush Sharma.

To haul the load to Montreal, the FBI alleges their informant reached out to another Canadian trucker, who he also claimed he knew from previous work. He offered this job to Ayush Sharma, 25, of Brampton, the FBI claims. According to the allegations, Sharma sent the informant the serial number of a banknote, which the informant passed on to Carvajal.

Ok perfecto” Carvajal replied.

A photo of Carlos Barragan holding a modified AK-47-style rifle was found on his phone.

On Nov. 28, 2022, a man the FBI identified as Carlos Barragan, 51, of Long Beach, California, parked a Jeep Cherokee in front of a PetSmart in a strip mall in Signal Hill, just north of Long Beach. Sharma pulled up in a tractor-trailer and put a large box from Barragan’s Jeep into the cab of his truck, according to FBI allegations.

Drop done brother thank you,” Carvajal texted to the informant afterward, and then a Signal group chat was started for himself, the informant, and Scoppa, the FBI alleges. That was the fateful trip that ended with Sharma being arrested outside the warehouse in Montreal.

On December 1, 2022, Sharma texted the informant “I just crossed the border,” he wrote.

According to police, the next day, Scoppa wrote to an accomplice: "Okay, tell me when the car is 20 minutes away, my guy will tell you where to go." “At the corner of Chabanel,” he would add later before writing “My guy will arrive in a Jeep.

Before Barragan met with Sharma beside PetSmart, he allegedly sent photos to the informant of what he was delivering: bricks wrapped in silver duct tape with small yellow labels on them, believed to be heroin, and other bricks believed to be cocaine, some wrapped in black with a beige stripe, and others wrapped in silver tape. 

Bricks of what is believed to be heroin and cocaine seized in Montreal, and allegedly sent by Roberto Scoppa.

The FBI sent the photos to the RCMP. When the Canadians looked at what they found in Montreal, the 19 bricks looked just like those in U.S. photos.

After arrests in Montreal and the raid on Garcia’s home in California, it seems likely that narcos might want to scrutinize their operation to find the weak link, or worse, a rat.

When the informant was summoned to Mexico to personally discuss things, it must have been terrifying. He headed south anyway.

Jalisco trafficker Eduardo "Primo" Carvajal

Summoned to Mexico

Guadalajara, deep in west Mexico, is a city of considerable history and charm. In the underworld, though, it is known as the birthplace of one of Mexico’s first cocaine cartels, and its state, Jalisco, as home to one of the country’s most violent narco groups, the CJNG.

It was here that the FBI’s secret informant arrived on Dec. 16, 2022, to meet with bosses who had recently been stung by costly losses of men, money, and products because of his betrayals.

But did they know? The FBI documents don’t reveal how the snitch was feeling. It’s inconceivable he wasn’t terrified.

He first met Carvajal, the alleged narco known as "Primo." Carvajal quickly started talking to him about “The Italian.” He told the snitch his partner’s real name was Roberto Scoppa and that they had worked together for 8 years; Carvajal even showed him a photograph of Scoppa’s passport, the informant told his FBI handlers afterward.

Carvajal wasn’t fingering him as a rat; the Mexican seemed worried the informant thought his partner, the Italian, was one. The next night, the informant met with Soto, another of the Mexicans he was setting up, at Soto’s home in Guadalajara, the FBI alleges.

This time, the snitch felt comfortable enough to wear a wire to secretly record his conversations. 

While he was with Soto, in walked Carvajal and Scoppa, the FBI alleges. 

Scoppa, however, introduced himself to the informant, according to allegations in FBI documents, and got down to business. The corridor between Toronto and Montreal was “heated,” Scoppa allegedly said, and when truck drivers get caught some of them talk, so he had an idea — but he didn’t want the snitch to share it with anyone else.

“Water is flowing under the bridge,” Scoppa reportedly said, adding that the trio needs to be sure this doesn't happen again “because it could flow to us and cause us problems.”

Scoppa suggested using rental U-Hauls to move loads within Canada, which wouldn’t be scrutinized like transport trucks, according to a summary of the conversation prepared by the FBI and filed in court. If contraband was found, the U-Haul driver could claim the box was already there when he rented it.

“Scoppa cautioned however that the driver must wear gloves so that there are no fingerprints on the drugs,” the FBI summary alleges.

Who is the Rat?

Their next item for discussion would be of more interest to the informant: What went wrong in Montreal?

Scoppa mused it could have been a rat, according to the FBI’s summary. He told the others he learned from a lawyer that Toronto police tipped off the Sûreté du Québec about the delivery, according to allegations in an FBI document. Maybe the driver got flagged by cameras on the highway, he said. He doubted the problem was the drop-off spot because it was “clean,” according to the FBI summary.

“Scoppa said he did not want to point fingers” and added “the truth would come out” during the court process.

The four of them then went to dinner. As they ate, the FBI claims Scoppa said the busts are a good warning because “a little thing like that” could “trickle down to us” and then “we’ll have problems.” He suggested capping loads at 100 kilos a month, the summary alleges.

“100 a month is perfect,” Scoppa allegedly said, claiming he makes $1 million a year with that method, the summary alleges. Carvajal lamented having to deal with small bills; Scoppa said he uses Tether, a popular cryptocurrency.

A month later, the informant went back to Mexico, this time to meet with a boss of the other network he was snitching on, the one allegedly feeding Sidhu, known as King, in Ontario. It was a shorter trip. 

On Jan. 29, 2023, the informant walked across the U.S.-Mexico border into Tijuana, south of San Diego, wearing a wire. Soto picked him up at a café and drove him to meet Jesus Ruiz Sandoval Jr., 45, an American living in Mexico, the FBI claims.

Walking into Sandoval’s house, the informant was distracted by a rack of rifles hanging in the kitchen, and more guns in a cabinet next to the bathroom, he later told the FBI. If Sandoval was to do something nasty to a visitor, it wouldn’t be his first time. In 2008, when Sandoval was selling cocaine and meth and going by the name Jorge Cuevas-Mares, he lured a member of his organization across the border into Mexico, where he kidnapped him and held him for a month until the man’s family paid a debt of $500,000. After that, Sandoval pleaded guilty to drug charges and was released from prison in 2016.

Hells Angels MC Montreal

As they talked, Sandoval said the Hells Angels in Montreal were one of his biggest customers. The bikers ordered up to 600 kilos at a time, their demand “so large” he sometimes “had trouble filling the entire order,” according to an FBI summary of the meeting.

The men then discussed a proposal for the informant to move 80 to 200 units out of Los Angeles each week. Then they all went for lunch. The informant walked safely back into America before dinnertime.

The very next day they started exchanging serial numbers and phone numbers to begin hauling dope, authorities allege. Police watched one exchange, followed the truck, pulled it over, and found 70 kilos of cocaine.

Brother we got a problem,” Soto allegedly texted the informant afterward, and then told him about the highway seizure. The informant asked if he had broken the bad news to Sandoval.

Ima tell him in a bit brother,” wrote Soto, according to the FBI documents, “I’m just trying to figure best way to tell him.” Maybe Soto was thinking of all those rifles.

The informant was himself soon summoned down again to Mexico to explain directly to Sandoval what happened on the highway. The informant went. He even wore a wire.

On Feb. 20, 2023, the snitch crossed into Mexico and was driven to see Sandoval, the FBI claims. Although Sandoval was upset, the FBI summary says, he agreed to keep working with the informant but said for the next 8 loads he was paying a lower rate.

As this informant was spinning Scoppa and the Mexicans, he was allegedly also busy doing the exact same thing with a second group, the Ontario branch, allegedly run by Guramrit Sidhu, a bald man with a salt and pepper mustache and goatee.

He supervised a whirlwind of trucks and deliveries, with rapidly changing drivers and coded language, the FBI claims.

In text messages, “water” was code for meth and “girls” for cocaine; “Lisa” meant Los Angeles, authorities say. The FBI compared his hyperactive machinations to conducting an orchestra.

Investigators started tracking Sidhu’s alleged drug pickups in California through the informant on Sept. 12, 2022, when banknote serial numbers started zipping back and forth, the FBI claims.

Canadian Ivan Gravel Gonzalez

The first of those alleged loads was 200 kilos of meth, packed onto a truck by a driver in Montclair, about halfway between L.A. and San Bernardino, for the trip to Canada. A week later, Sidhu allegedly asked the informant to arrange a second load, for 45 kilos of cocaine, which was allegedly delivered to a truck driver in a parking lot by a Canadian, Ivan Gravel Gonzalez, 32, of Trois-Rivières, Que. Days later, another 80 kilos of cocaine were already rolling north, according to FBI documents.

Just after midnight, on Sept. 27, 2022, after the 80 kilos had crossed into Canada and arrived at a trucking yard in Brampton, Sidhu went and retrieved it himself, the FBI alleges, and he took it to his Brampton home.

When daylight broke, Sidhu allegedly took the boxes to a parking lot and passed them to another distributor, according to the allegations.

Two weeks later, Gravel Gonzalez arrived at a California parking lot with his car stuffed full of meth for Sidhu, the FBI claims. Two large cardboard boxes were in the trunk, another two in the back seat, a box on the front passenger seat, and two long duffle bags, one in the back and one in the front. Imagine if he was pulled over for speeding.

By late October, though, the informant and a second FBI cooperator started posing as the drivers for Sidhu’s loads, the FBI says, taking the drugs from a distributor, and turning them over to the feds.

The pace of the orders was getting out of hand.

Operation Dead Hand Takedown

The secret double life of the undercover informant officially ended on Jan. 30, 2024, when a press conference was called in Los Angeles to reveal Operation Dead Hand.

By then, two federal indictments had been unsealed in an L.A. courthouse naming 19 accused, and search warrants and arrest warrants had been executed in California, Florida, Texas, Montreal, Brampton, and Calgary to grab as many suspects as possible before media arrived.

Martin Estrada, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, publicly named Scoppa as one of the leaders arrested, emphasizing the link to the Mafia in Canada. In the same indictment, Canadian truckers Sharma and Kumar were also named.

194 kilograms of meth that Ivan Gravel Gonzalez was allegedly delivering for Guramrit Sidhu, in October 2022.

Sidhu was named as the boss of the second branch of Operation Dead Hand. Quebec resident Ivan Gravel Gonzalez was named as one of Sidhu’s underlings.

By the time the press conference started, 13 of the 19 accused men had been arrested. Another two soon joined them behind bars, leaving four as wanted fugitives: Carvajal and Soto, named as Mexican leaders; Garcia, the alleged distributor with the “car parts” notebook; and Esteban Sinhue Mercado, 24, of San Jacinto, California, an alleged distributor.

The RCMP said the 5 Canadian suspects had been arrested at the request of the United States, and nearly a million dollars in cash, 70 kilos of cocaine, and 4 kilos of heroin were seized in Canada.

Operation Dead Hand seized 951 kilograms of cocaine, 845 kilograms of meth, 20 kilograms of fentanyl, and 4 kilograms of heroin, with an estimated wholesale value in the U.S. between $16-28 million, according to U.S. authorities.

Roberto Scoppa is in custody awaiting his extradition to the United States. A motion filed in the Superior Court in Montreal stated he wants to be released while awaiting the rest of the legal process. Saying that he does not represent a danger to the population and that the risks of leaks are non-existent.

Scoppa says he has always held a job and describes himself as an asset to the company. He offered to surrender his passport, wear a GPS bracelet, and not communicate with the co-defendants and anyone named in the charges. He is willing to commit $100,000, with no deposit, to prove that he will not violate his conditions. His request will be debated at the end of the month.

It should be noted that according to the FBI undercover informant, prior to his meeting Scoppa in Mexico, Carvajal stated to the informant that he had worked with "The Italian" Roberto Scoppa for 8 years. Several years before the slayings of his two brothers in 2019.

Guramrit Sidhu’s lawyer, Leo Adler, said his client will be seeking bail next week and could not comment in detail, but he cautioned: “The allegations are not necessarily accurate in all respects.”

The man suspected of delivering the drugs to Montreal, Ayush Sharma, has given up his challenge to his extradition.


  1. Replies
    1. Go back to sleep, BB will be here in the morning.

    2. Connor im telling your mom you staying up late again.

  2. Mencho supplies all east Canada

    1. Yep you're right his Spirit sure does 😂.

    2. Now he has to supply bar soaps for his goons in jail

  3. Scoppa thinks they will let him go just like that! With certainty that he would escape from the authorities and hide for a few years. He has enough dollars, also a safe house. How can you not be a threat to the population, and you transfer so many drugs that later kill young life on the streets of Canada... Canadian woman 💋 explain a few things please...

  4. claro que el pobre punjabi trucker tenia problemas para dar vuelta,montreal es una ciudad muy vieja al estilo europeo,nada que ver con los hwys de los angeles,pero los hell angels ,tienen conexiones,con los mohawks,en las reservas autoctonas que estan en la frontera canadiense&usa,asi que como dice el gabacho problemo amigo...........

  5. Deportation is a worse punishment than prison for these Indian and Sihk truckers as they eat better and make more $$$ in prison than they do in India! So, a promise of citizenship and they will easily flip!

    1. Their next job is in a call center after deportation

  6. estoy de acuerdo contigo pero el problema es que aqui en canada las leyes son muy blandas y las carceles muy confortables y menu vegano,vegetariano kosher,halal si eres musulman..y lo mas bueno a las guardias quebecas les gusta los latinos asi que con suerte hasta novia te consigues adentro......como la ves......y los punjabis es un grupo etnico que estan bien representados en la politica.....buenos abogados.......solo si eres residente te deportan si eres ciudadano....te mandan a la calle de regreso......

  7. With Mo $$$ from the Feds, of course, the pajeet went to Mexico! He was more afraid of passing on a pajeet-fortune than getting chopped into pieces!

  8. Was wearing that wire courageous, or just crazy?
    Don't know if it made it into the Al Pacino movie of the same name, but in Peter Maas's excellent book Serpico, the protagonist, a rat cop, was in a huddle, wired up, with some mafia heavyweights, when the recording device concealed in his crotch malfunctioned..
    The battery leaked, scorching his balls, and, in agony, he had to play it off like he hadn't a care in the world as the guinea goombahs sniffed the air, asking each other what that burning smell was..

  9. socalj.felicitaciones bro..muy bueno y completo articulo trabajo de profesional....bien documentado estas en algo la presse,et le journal de montreal son buenas fuentes saludos de montreal..

  10. So who was the snitch? The Indian dude? Or some other driver?

  11. Scoppa is NOT part of the "Calabrian faction" ... He, like his brothers who are now passed, were always independent..

  12. Thought they were safe on Signal 💀💀 Fkin bums. 1 informant. that's all it takes

    1. Lol 2:04 dumb criminals signals a centralized server

    2. all smart phones were INVENTED to give info to the agency

  13. Sharma and Sidhu, likely part of the Punjabi immigrant truck mafia.


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;