Garbage giant under investigation for cocaine trafficking

Garbage giant under investigation for cocaine trafficking< /p> , Marc Sandreschi and Félix Séguin MISE À DAY

Garbage giant Ricova is suspected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of being involved in drug trafficking via Colombia, our Bureau of Investigation has learned.

The nation's top police force is taking a particular interest in Ricova's recyclable materials boating business.

In a 2020 intelligence report that documents foreign threats to the security of the Canada, the RCMP indicates that Ricova and its leader, Domenico Colubriale, “may be” involved in “drug trafficking through shipping containers and money laundering through exports of recycled paper”.

“Domenico Colubriale has also been suspected of arms trafficking in the past,” says this report shared with the main police forces in the country.  

Ricova is a major player in the industry of waste in Quebec. The company manages sorting centers in Montreal and on the South Shore. It is also responsible for garbage collection in many cities in the south of the province, as well as 25% of Montreal.

A truck from the Ricova company, which has concluded numerous public contracts in the greater Montreal area in recent years.

The company has already been in hot water for months for defrauding the City of Montreal of at least a million dollars, which it disputes.

A trafficker recruited

Many of Ricova International's exports are made by an entity registered in Panama, a country known for its advantageous taxation.

But a good part of the operations take place rather in Colombia. This is particularly the case with sales of recyclable materials from Quebec to foreign countries. 

These operations interest the RCMP to such an extent that it has mandated a drug trafficker to provide it with information on this happening in Colombia.  

A powerful drug trafficker told us that he helped the RCMP in their investigation of Ricova.

The RCMP approached a Quebec cocaine trafficker who is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel in an effort to find out if Ricova was transporting drugs and, if so, where it came from and to whom it was destined. 

“Drug trafficking. For Montreal, Canada. That's the suspicion. It does not work the quantities of things he sends. There is something weird, ”said this drug trafficker, whose identity we are protecting. His testimony can be found in the book Narcos PQ, from our Bureau of Investigation, which has recently been available in bookstores.

Also monitored in Colombia

According to him, Ricova is also “in the eye of the Colombian police”. “It's because of bills. […] This is something that is still under investigation right now,” he said.

As of now, no charges have been filed against Ricova or its leaders .

The president of Ricova, Domenico Colubriale, did not want to grant us an interview. Instead, it was lawyer Donald Riendeau who answered us. 

Me Riendeau, who directs the Institute of Trust in Organizations, himself issued a “certificate of integrity” on Ricova and Mr. Colubriale. 

He indicates that he hired the former police officer Claude Paquette to verify the probity of Mr. Colubriale.

“[Mr. Paquette] spoke with two of the most senior leaders of organized crime from the SPVM and the Sûreté du Québec, who confirmed that Mr. […] Colubriale had no connection with organized crime,” says Donald Riendeau.< /p>

Don't miss the show J.E, tonight on TVA at 9:30 p.m., which will address police suspicions of Ricova.

MANY TIMES IN THE NEWS 

Ricova has often made headlines for controversies in recent years 

  • In 2018, municipalities in the Eastern Townships, including Sherbrooke, expelled Ricova from their sorting center, on the pretext that the sorting “was not done”. Tons of materials had ended up in the landfill.  
  • In 2019, our Bureau of Investigation revealed that Rebuts Solids Canadiens was asking its employees at the Châteauguay sorting center to make up bundles of paper to thwart Indian customs. This was done at the request of Ricova.  
  • In 2020, Ricova recovered the management contracts for the two City of Montreal sorting centers from a company in Bankruptcy, Canadian Solid Scraps. Ricova thus obtained the monopoly of recycling sorting for Montrealers.  
  • Last March, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the City of Montreal discovered that Ricova was not sharing all the profits from the sale of recyclable materials as it should have done. The subsidiary Ricova International was taking a profit of at least $20 per ton which was not disclosed, thus depriving the City of at least $1 million. 
  • In June, because of the BIG investigation, the company was blacklisted by the City of Montreal for five years, which prevents it from obtaining new contracts. Ricova applied to the court to overturn this decision, but the case was not heard.
  • Two weeks ago, the administration of Valérie Plante announced that she was going to terminate one of her nine contracts with Ricova, that of the Lachine sorting center, no later than November 14. The termination is not due to the OIG report, but rather Ricova's failure to properly sort recyclables and sell them. 

Des offices in Panama and Colombia 

Several of Ricova's recyclables vendors operate from Colombia. They use both Colombian and Quebec phone numbers. 

They also give a mailing address in Barranquilla, Colombia. Our Bureau of Investigation traveled to this city last spring to visit Ricova's facilities. On site, the name of the company had been removed from the building.

A security guard met on site explained that he had not seen anyone working there for weeks.  

We tried to meet Maria Carolina Gomez Garcia, a Colombian founder of Ricova International, a company officially based in Panama.

No one wanted to talk about Ricova either at her address in Colombia or at his address in Quebec.  

Watched for 20 years 

Ricova and its leaders have been the subject of numerous police intelligence reports in the past, including for alleged links to organized crime.

According to a recent report by the Sûreté du Québec ( SQ) that the Bureau of Investigation consulted, the suspicions of illegal activities date back to 2001. 

Domenico Colubriale, president of Ricova

Police suspect Ricova president Domenico Colubriale of fraud against the government in a case of false statements about recycled materials made in 2017. 

This same document indicates that he is suspected of having laundered $2 million by selling recyclable materials at a loss in 2012.

The same year, Domenico Colubriale was allegedly involved in receiving stolen vehicles, again according to the police. 

< p>Also in 2012, a business owned by Mr. Colubriale was allegedly used to import illicit goods, including cocaine. 

The document states that a career criminal well known to the police was one of the drivers. He has an extensive criminal record for drug trafficking.

No charges have been filed in connection with the police allegations against Mr. Colubriale and his businesses.

At Rizzuto's funeral 

In this same report, the SQ also mentions contacts between one of Ricova's leaders and the Rizzuto clan.

According to our information, this individual notably heads the Ricova Services subsidiary. This company has obtained at least $150 million in public contracts over the past five years, notably with the cities of Montreal, Boucherville and Brossard, as well as with school service centers and the Government of Quebec.

This leader is known to police for attending the private party of former mob boss Nicolo Rizzuto Senior in 2009.

Police allege that senior organized crime individuals in Montreal, Toronto, from the United States, but also from Italy were present at this event.  

Nicolo Rizzuto Sr, who is the father of Vito Rizzuto, was assassinated in 2010.

– With Charles Mathieu

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