Paul Cherry • Montreal Gazette
A large quantity of cocaine seized in Vermont, believed to have been the motive behind an elderly couple being kidnapped and smuggled from New York to Quebec in September, was allegedly destined for the Hells Angels.
The details of who the ultimate customers were for the 50 kilograms of cocaine, seized on Sept. 21, are contained in the summary of a Parole Board of Canada decision to revoke the parole of Kosmas Dritsas, 49, one of the men charged in the kidnapping of James and Sandra Helm, a couple in their 70s who were snatched from their home in Moira, N.Y., on Sept. 27.
They were smuggled by boat across the Canadian border and held against their will for two days at a house in Magog, in the Eastern Townships. Court documents filed in a U.S. District courthouse in New York against Graigory Brown, an American charged with taking part in the abduction of the couple, allege they were kidnapped because drug smugglers based in Quebec believed their grandson Macenzie Helm had stolen cocaine he was supposed to deliver. The kidnappers were apparently unaware the cocaine had been seized a week earlier by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration during a bust in Vermont. Macenzie Helm and his mother, Michelle, were arrested when the cocaine was seized, and face criminal charges in Vermont.
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Dritsas was arrested, along with four other men, after the Sûreté du Québec found the couple at a home in Magog. At the time of his arrest, he was still serving an eight-year sentence he received for drug trafficking in Winnipeg with two members of the Rock Machine, another outlaw motorcycle gang. The Town of Mount Royal resident was granted full parole in 2017.
He was returned to a penitentiary and his parole was revoked last week.
“According to police information, on Sept. 27, 2020, an American couple in their 70s was kidnapped from their home in New York state. Their grandson had been intercepted by American police, who had seized a large amount of cocaine, which was destined for the Hells Angels in Canada,” the parole board noted in its decision.
When Dritsas was interviewed by his parole officers, he declined to say anything about the case, “but stated that (he) would have provided explanations if (his) court case was settled.”
“You did not want to comment on the impacts experienced by the kidnapped couple, but said that you were glad they are home,” the parole board noted. “You added that you are feeling disgusted with yourself and that the events did not reflect who you are.”
Dritsas’s case returns to court in February.
The seizure of the cocaine in September is also alleged to be tied to the arrest of Georges Yaghmour, a 39-year-old Montrealer who was apprehended in a related case in Florida in November.
Yaghmour, who does not have a criminal record in Quebec, is charged in Vermont with plotting to bring up to 1,500 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. According to an affidavit filed in Yaghmour’s case, the arrest of Macenzie and Michelle Helm in September was part of an ongoing investigation into Yaghmour and an unnamed alleged co-conspirator that began in 2019.
The affidavit describes how DEA investigators monitored a meeting, held at a hotel in Vermont on Dec. 5, 2019, where alleged drug smugglers discussed delivering 500-kilogram loads of cocaine to Vermont. The DEA agent who prepared the affidavit alleged that a person who arrived at the hotel in a Canadian-registered vehicle and who joined the meeting at a bar in the lobby was later identified as Yaghmour “based on border-crossing records.”
Yaghmour and the unnamed man are alleged to have said “that they had paid off officials in Peru and Mexico to allow safe passage.”