Police say they have disrupted a major organized crime and drug trafficking ring in New Brunswick following a three-year investigation.

Members from several New Brunswick police forces teamed up with the Canada Border Services Agency to execute search warrants across the province on Wednesday.

Police searched homes and businesses in communities across the southern part of the province, including Saint John, Scoudouc, Oromocto, Moncton, Seeleys Cove, Springfield, Grand Manan and Willow Grove.

Saint John’s Big Shots Sports Bar was among the businesses targeted Wednesday morning, as well as a pawn shop on Main Street.

Police also conducted searches in Laval, Quebec and in the Halifax area in connection with the illegal drug investigation, dubbed Operation J-Tornado.

Investigators seized large quantities of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and suitcases full of marijuana, as well as large amounts of cash in large denominations.

“We feel we have dealt a significant blow to the trade of heroin in Saint John before it could really take root in our communities,” says RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Farrah.

They also seized several firearms, including half a dozen semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

Police say drugs were being supplied to two Saint John crime groups via routes from Montreal, Halifax, and from another crime group in Moncton.

The drugs were then re-distributed around Saint John and into other communities, including Fredericton, Oromocto, Sussex, St. George and Grand Manan.

“Today’s announcement illustrates that offenders cannot utilize geography and jurisdiction to avoid detection and arrest,” says Saint John Police Insp. Glenn McCloskey.

Police had originally said 29 people had been arrested but that number was changed to 28 on Thursday.

The suspects are facing drug-related charges while some are also facing charges in relation to participation in a criminal organization, conspiracy to traffic drugs, firearms offences and proceeds of crime offences:

  • Anthony Edison, 37, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Shane Williams, 32, of Smithtown, N.B.
  • Jason Smith, 31, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Thomas Edison, 40, of Saint John, N.B
  • Ronald Meunier, 41, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Clifford Hughes, 34, Saint John, N.B.
  • Raymond Desylva, 46, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Joey Cormier, 42, of Scoudouc, N.B.
  • Jeffrey Cormier, 40, of Moncton, N.B.
  • Robert White, 41, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Christopher Hachey, 37, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Joshua Kindred, 38, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Kevin Sexton, 30, of Oromocto, N.B.
  • Shane Simpson, 41, of Moncton, N.B.
  • Dale Baiani, 39, of Moncton, N.B.
  • John Deas, 41, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Patrick O'Neil, 33, of Saint John, N.B.
  • James Polley, 33, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Tamara Jones, 25, Seeleys Cove, N.B.
  • James Mailman, 37, of Saint John, N.B.
  • Claude DiFazio, 53, of Laval, P.Q.
  • Gordon White, 73, Saint John, N.B.
  • Joey LeBlanc, 41, Saint John, N.B.
  • Michel Hébert, 39, of Springfield, N.B.
  • Kevin Maker, 48, of Grand Manan, N.B.
  • Jeffrey Moorcroft, 20, Willow Grove, N.B.
  • Derik Rossignol, 25, of Tracey, N.B.
  • Adam Ratcliffe, 25, of Fredericton, N.B.

Police say the alleged leaders of three criminal groups in New Brunswick are among those arrested.

“Basically it is a group of at least three people that get together to do criminal activity, so those are all details that will be coming out,” says New Brunswick RCMP Const. Chantal Farrah.

“This has had and will have a significant impact on the safety of our communities because, as you know, where there is drug trafficking there is also the risk of offences of violence and other negative things in our communities.”

Some of the accused have already appeared in court, while others are awaiting bail hearings.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the illegal drug trade or organized crime to contact them.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron