Canada

Undercover OPP bought grenades, launcher, guns and a half-kilo of cocaine, trafficking trial hears

LONDON, Ont.—A veteran undercover Ontario Provincial Police officer bought a grenade launcher, dozens of grenades, ammunition and at least one automatic weapon in a series of deals while posing as a survivalist, an ongoing trafficking trial has heard.

The officer’s face was hidden by a large, white screen as he spoke from the witness box before Justice David Harris.

His identity was given only as Officer No. 2 as he testified in the trial by judge alone of Brandon Spaulding, of Brantford, who was charged with possession of explosives, weapons trafficking, possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited device and trafficking cocaine.

At least one of the deals took place in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Ancaster, outside Hamilton. Others took place by the side of a road and behind a private residence in Brantford.

In some of the deals in late 2020 and early 2021, the officer was accompanied by another undercover OPP officer who drove a silver Mercedes sedan and posed as a cocaine dealer.

“Your role was that of the crazy survivalist who wants stockpiles of weapons?” defence lawyer Adam Weisberg asked Officer No. 2 in cross-examination.

“I don’t think I testified ‘crazy,’” Officer No. 2 replied.

The two OPP undercover officers testified from behind a large white screen, so that their faces were only visible to the judge.

Both officers identified Spaulding as a man who sold them the weapons and cocaine in the mall parking lot. They both wore recording devices during the meetings.

The undercover officer who drove the silver Mercedes sedan was identified only as “Officer No. 1.”

Under questioning from Crown attorney Meredith Gardiner, Officer No. 1 testified that she was deployed 15 times with the police agent before a Dec. 17, 2020 parking lot meeting, in which the undercover officers purchased 60 grenades for $110,000 and half a kilo of cocaine for $35,000. All payments were made in cash, court heard.

Gardiner asked Officer No. 1 if she could see the person delivering the grenades and cocaine in the courtroom.

“Yes,” Officer No. 1 said, indicating Spaulding, who wore a cream-coloured curling sweater, grey dress pants and a tie and sat beside Weisberg and co-counsel, Maya Sengupta-Murray, in court.

One of the undercover purchases was for six grenades on Nov. 24, 2020, for $12,000, conducted by the side of a road near Brantford. Officer No. 2 also bought a kilo of cocaine at that meeting for $65,000, he testified.

Under cross-examination from Weisberg, Officer No. 1 said that the police agent who worked with them said he used a marijuana product on the day of a Dec. 16, 2020 meeting in which cocaine and grenades were purchased.

“The agent said he was hungry after doing dabs,” Officer No. 1 said. “I understood dabs to be some sort of marijuana.”

Crown Attorney Kristina Mildred questioned Officer No. 2 about his assignment on Jan. 29, 2021, when he bought more weapons in the back of a large private parking lot behind a Brantford house.

“I was directed to purchase four handguns and a grenade launcher,” Officer No. 2 said.

He said he bought a fully automatic .45 calibre Glock handgun, three other handguns and a grenade launcher at that meeting.

A third undercover agent drove to that meeting in either a Land Rover or Range Rover SUV, Officer No. 2 said.

Spaulding was also at that meeting, Officer No. 2 said.

“There were quick greetings and then basically down to business,” Officer No. 2 said.

The handguns were in a green, hockey-type bag and the grenade launcher was in a rifle case, Officer No. 2 said.

The other handguns he purchased were a Ruger semi-automatic pistol, a Silver Versa .380 and a black handgun, described as “1911 style.”

“I zipped up the bag and placed it in the rear of the truck, beside the grenade launcher,” Officer No. 2 said.

He said he also got a few grenade rounds for the launcher, he said, adding they were different from the hand grenades he had purchased.

“You don’t fire normal grenades from a grenade launcher,” Officer No. 2 said. “You need specific rounds … They’re like bullets on steroids.”

Officer No. 2 said that Spaulding was also at that meeting.

“Did you ever see him again?” Mildred asked.

“Just today,” Officer No. 2 said, as Spaulding shook his head sadly.

Officer No. 2 said the location of the meeting in the private parking lot made it difficult for other police to watch the meeting.

“Typically on these plays, we would have a cover team,” Officer No. 2 said. “I wasn’t aware of exactly how we were being covered.”

“I learned that it was an airplane that was covering us when we were in that back lot,” Officer No. 2 said.

The trial continues.

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