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Alleged B.C. fentanyl trafficker charged in connection with U.S. Navy deaths

Vancouver man believed to operate an international dark web drug and money laundering organization
A B.C. man is facing charges connecting him to a international criminal organization and two overdose deaths. (Black Press Media file photo)

A B.C. man is awaiting extradition to the United States for drug-trafficking charges connecting him to an international criminal organization and the overdose deaths of two U.S. Navy petty officers.

Thomas Michael Federuik, 59, of West Vancouver and Paul Anthony Nicholls, 44, of Surrey, United Kingdom were arrested by the RCMP’s serious and organized crimes unit on May 24, following a five-year transnational investigation into a dark web drug trafficking vendor known as “Canada1.”

Canada1, American authorities believe, was the vendor who supplied two U.S. Navy petty officers with fentanyl that they fatally overdosed on in October 2017. BC RCMP officers then linked Canada1 to a West Vancouver residence, where they intercepted several packages being shipped that contained fentanyl.

In March 2018, RCMP investigators arrested Federuik and Nicholls and seized about 1.6 kilograms of fentanyl, valued at an estimated $30 million. They also discovered mail tracking slips that coincided with ones American authorities found with the two petty officers. Having overstayed his visa, Nicholls was deported to the U.K.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office took on prosecution for the case, and on May 24, 2022 the two men were arrested.

Speaking Thursday (June 16), Cpl. Arash Seyed said the four years between the initial arrest and charges being laid was do the the complexity of the case and the difficulty of coordinating cross-border investigations during the pandemic. He said they dismantled the Canada1 organization in 2018, but can’t be sure Federuik and Nicholls didn’t continue to operate in the criminal world during the years they remained free.

The U.S. indictment alleges the men conspired to import drugs from China and Hungary, under the guise of business names “East Van Eco Tours,” and “Bridge City Consulting LLP,” to distribute them throughout the U.S. It also alleges Federuik and Nicholls shipped the fentanyl to the two petty officers, resulting in their overdose deaths.

The men face drug and money laundering charges, which subject them to possible penalties of 10 years to life in prison and fines of up to $10 million.

The men are in custody and awaiting extradition to appear in court in the Southern District of Georgia, where the petty officers died.

READ ALSO: No charges for cops, guards after B.C. man with broken hip left ‘screaming’ in cell overnight


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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