The Big Sting
Published by: Key Porter
Release Date: December 1, 1991
Here is the explosive true story of the biggest sting operation in Canadian police history – and the young Canadian pilot-turned-agent who helped pull it all off.
Seduced by the excitement and big money of drug smuggling, Douglas Jaworski was lured into a dangerous business relationship with the powerful Medellin drug cartel. The plan was to smuggle $250 million of cocaine into the United States by way of Canada. But when Jaworski suspected that his life was in jeopardy, he secretly turned to the RCMP.
Investigative reporter Peter Edwards chronicles the real-life cat-and-mouse game that followed, providing rare insights into the operations of both the drug cartels and law enforcement. Here are colorful portraits of the major players: from murderous drug lord Pablo Escobar-Gaviria, his scheming lieutenant Diego Alejandro Caycedo, and the flamboyant “King of Cocaine” Roberto Suarez to the brave and dedicated RCMP officers who risked their own lives to break the case. Here, too, is the troubling revelation of Canada’s vulnerability to major drug traffickers and the reasons why the RCMP is often helpless to stop them.
Today Douglas Jaworski lives in hiding from his former bosses.
“Edwards does a superb job of weaving together this complex story.”
—The Toronto Star
“A rare look at the inner mechanics of the Colombian cartel… a candid story of an international criminal told by one of Canada’s major crime journalists.”
—The Toronto Sun
RCMP Constable Bert Gillies was working at Pearson International Airport shortly before noon on Friday, December 16, 1988, when a young man with a deep tan showed up to tell a wild story. Airport police receive almost daily visits from people needing psychiatric, not police, help. But this stranger was intriguing and seemed rational, if extremely nervous.
At 12:15, Gillies placed a call to his supervisor, Corporal Keith Milner.
“Listen, would you come over to Terminal 2?,” Gillies asked. “I’ve got someone that I’d like you to speak to.”
“Is it really necessary?,” Milner replied. He was working through lunch, trying to get through a mound of paperwork that was park of the new job he had taken after leaving the drug section of the Mounties.
Gillies pressed on.
“I don’t want to get into it over the phone. Come on over here. You’re going to be very interested when you get here.”
“When he got to the Terminal 2 interview room fifteen minutes later, Gillies took Milner aside.
“Look, there’s a fellow who walked in here. He started talking to me and he talked for about three-quarters of an hour about high-level dope dealers from South America. I’ve never done drug work so I’d really appreciate it if you go in and figure out who he is and see if he’s bona fide.”
Milner’s first observation was that Doug Jaworski was not dressed for December in Toronto. He was sitting in an interview office, wearing a blue knit polo sweater, Italian Fila running shoes, a gold Rolex watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses. His hair was stylishly cut, and he sported a rich tan that was clearly not from a booth or a quick trip to Florida.
When Milner asked Jaworski to take off his Ray-Bans, he refused. When Milner asked why, Jaworski replied simply, “I don’t want to take the sunglasses off.”
Jaworski’s voice was almost a falsetto. He sat slouched in his chair with his hands in his lap. His fingers were intertwined, and he twiddled his thumbs nervously. He didn’t look like an international dope dealer; he looked more like a boy-next-door from a rich neighbourhood, someone who would have trouble growing a beard.
But Jaworski seemed to be for real. He explained to Milner that he could help the Mounties nab key members of the Medellin cocaine cartel, which imported an estimated 80 per cent of the cocaine on North American streets and was widely considered the world’s most vicious criminal enterprise. Milner had heard that informers against the Cartel were often executed by means of a “Colombian necktie.” Their throats were slit vertically and their tongues yanked out in front of their eyes in a piece of lethal and bloody symbolism. Often, informer’s entire families were slaughtered as a warning to others. If Jaworski was telling the truth, his nervousness was understandable. If not, then this kid liked to lie on a grand scale.