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Pivot crew shocked to learn RCMP aware of cocaine shipment

RCMP knew about a possible shipment of cocaine from the Dominican Republic to Toronto on a Canadian charter flight, but inexplicably let the crew who discovered and reported the drugs go without intervention for months, a W5 investigation has found.

Through emails and a police source, W5 has learned that the RCMP is seeking information in February 2022 on at least two Pivot Airline passengers with extensive ties to Alberta’s drug trade.

Less than two months later, in April, the crew found more than 200 kilograms of cocaine in the avionics bay of their plane at Punta Cana airport.

They were subsequently arrested, jailed and detained for eight months in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s amazing to me [RCMP] there would be no immediate intervention, investigation or no investigation,” said Garry Clement, a former RCMP inspector specializing in financial and transnational crime syndicates. “Why are you letting the staff languish in prison? It shouldn’t have happened.”

The revelations that come months later W5’s investigation into 12 Canadians in the Dominican Republicraises troubling questions about why the authorities allowed the crew to remain in foreign detention for so long and why more was not done to free them.

“It’s so disturbing,” said Pivot Airlines flight attendant Alex Roznow. “You expect more from the Canadian government?”

For months, the RCMP refused to answer any specific questions about what they knew and when, but have now admitted they had prior knowledge of a possible drug-smuggling plot.

In an emailed statement, an RCMP spokesperson said Mounties were made aware of a possible shipment of drugs arriving by air from the Dominican Republic in February and that “the aircraft was intercepted and searched, but no drugs were found.”

Former RCMP Superintendent Garry Clement said he was surprised the RCMP would not have intervened in the personnel case based on what W5 learned. (CTV News)

During the previous investigation W5 revealed to be a fake companyTrust Capital paid for two Dominican Republic Pivot Airlines charters, one in February 2022 and the other in April 2022.

It’s not clear which flight the RCMP searched for, but Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmondson said it wasn’t the one the company returned from the Dominican Republic in February.

As for the April 2022 cocaine shipment, RCMP said they only became aware of it after the drugs were found in the Dominican Republic.

But the RCMP, W5 has learned, had two Edmonton-based passengers on their radar by then: Sheldon Poirier and Sean Kociancic.

Both have extensive criminal records, including convictions for possession for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking in controlled substances in Alberta. W5 previously found that many of the passengers on both flights had a history of drug use.

It is unclear what the status of the RCMP investigation is at this time and whether any of the passengers have been questioned.

Former RCMP Superintendent Clement believes there is more than enough evidence to begin producing search warrants that could lead to a range of charges, including conspiracy to import cocaine.

“The longer you leave it, the harder it will be,” he said.

Canadian staff, however, just want answers.

“I want to know why [Canadian authorities] let’s stay there for eight months,” said Pivot Airlines pilot Rob DiVenanzo. “I want to know from the law enforcement officers, what did you know?” Because if you can risk the lives of the crew of an international airline, you would do it to any member of the public… We could have been killed in prison.”

With files by Charles Rusnell

Do you have any tips for this story? Please get in touch Eric Seto or Avery Haynes

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