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MANDEL: GTA landlord guilty in Canada's largest carfentanil bust

Toronto Sun logo Toronto Sun 2023-02-02 Michele Mandel
Police evidence photo of powdered carfentanil, among 42 kilograms seized in a Pickering basement apartment on Sept. 20, 2017. © Provided by Toronto Sun Police evidence photo of powdered carfentanil, among 42 kilograms seized in a Pickering basement apartment on Sept. 20, 2017.
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He knew he had a death factory operating in his basement.

An Oshawa man charged in the largest carfentanil bust in Canadian history has been found guilty of constructive possession and “aiding and abetting” the massive drug operation run by his buddy in the basement of the Pickering duplex he owned.

“Maisum Ansari tried to obscure his role in this enterprise,” Superior Court Justice Hugh O’Connell said in a rambling judgment that lasted most of Wednesday. “He knew exactly what was going on.”

The Karachi native, who showed little emotion once the verdict finally came, was told to surrender his travel documents to his lawyer, Leora Shemesh, while he remains on bail until his sentencing hearing. Court heard the Crown may seek a life sentence.

It all fell apart for the father of three after his upstairs’ tenant called 911 on Sept. 20, 2017 when the carbon monoxide alarm went off in the middle of the night.

When firefighters arrived at the Pickering home, they found what looked like a working drug lab in the unoccupied basement, with nine baking trays filled with a white chalky substance that lab results would confirm was the deadly opioid cut with caffeine, with a potential street value of more than $16 million.

Police also discovered a black duffel bag in a closet filled with 33 vacuum sealed firearms, including a fully-automatic TEC-9 machine pistol , and nine over-capacity magazines.

The seizure was terrifying.

When the Drug Enforcement Agency made its first carfentanil bust in New York in 2008, their warning was blunt: “Carfentanil is death.” Used in veterinary medicine to anesthetize large animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses, it can be 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and human ingestion of even one or two grains can be fatal.

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The judge was satisfied Ansari had given the keys to his basement to his friend and “bro” Babar Ali, who after pleading guilty last year to possession of more than 26 kilograms of carfentanil and 33 weapons, was sentenced to 18 years in prison and issued a $1-million fine. The previous tenant in the home had been their mutual friend, Fahad Hussain, who had grown up with them in Thorncliffe Park and was brother of Faisal Hussain, the Danforth shooter who killed two, and then himself, in 2018.

Ansari had served as Fahad’s surety until the latter overdosed in 2017 and was left in a vegetative state.

O’Connell agreed with the Crown that Ansari was “well aware” of what Ali was doing in his rented home.

“The basement is basically a drug lab,” the judge said. “There is a plethora of evidence to suggest he had knowledge and control” of the drugs and guns that were there.

When Ansari was first questioned by police, he claimed he’d rented the basement to a man named Waseem Khan. But when the defence reopened its case last year, so he could take the stand, Ansari admitted Khan was a fictitious person he’d created so he wouldn’t implicate Ali because he was petrified of him.

O’Connell said he didn’t believe Ansari feared Ali, but he was “spinning a good tale” and it was a “complete and utter fabrication” in an attempt to isolate himself. “I reject completely his assertion he was threatened by Babar Ali.”

Ansari’s upstairs tenant had testified that she’d noticed the basement window of the Pickering house was open, closed it and texted Ansari. Hours later, she was awoken by the carbon monoxide alarm but when she called her landlord, he was upset and told her it was just a low battery, and she shouldn’t have alerted first responders.  “Get rid of them, get rid of them,” she recalled him telling her.

No wonder he didn’t want them coming.

Ansari’s lawyers had argued there was no forensic evidence at the scene linking Ansari to the drugs and guns, and insisted the Crown’s case rested almost entirely based on circumstantial evidence.

But O’Connell found Ansari’s story didn’t make sense, and his texts with Ali showed the friends trying to protect each other from anyone discovering the cache in the Pickering basement.

After his verdict, Shemesh told the judge she’ll be filing a section 11b application under the Charter. “The defence waited 10 months for Your Honour’s decision … this took too long.”

The motion is set to be argued later this month.


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