More than $3M in cash stashed in Burnaby subsidized housing unit, documents say

More than $3 million in cash was seized in a raid on a subsidized home in Burnaby, court documents allege.

According to a civil forfeiture claim, police searched the home of Rolando Enrique Guajardo and found cash throughout the residence, including “under the mattress, in a teapot, in suitcases, in drawers, under beds (and) in boxes and bags.”

The money, the documents allege, was seized by RCMP in connection with the largest drug bust in Australia’s history.

The documents say Guajardo was believed to be a retiree living in subsidized housing on Maple Grove Crescent.

Guajardo has no criminal record in Canada and is not facing criminal charges.

According to the documents, Guajardo travelled to Australia last year, where he stayed at the home of Nasser Abo Abdo, who ran a California audio equipment company.

When departing Australia, Guajardo and another man were questioned by border officials.

“During an inspection, ABF (Australian Border Force) officers located two photographs on Mr. Guajardo’s cellphone of a vacuum-sealed bag containing a block of white powder believed to be cocaine,” the documents say.

On Jan. 7, 2019, Abo Abdo lodged an export document for the shipment of loudspeakers from California to Australia. Three days earlier, Guajardo attended Abo Abdo’s business “where they remained until late in the evening moving boxes and pallets.”

The shipment was intercepted by U.S. authorities, who found 1,728 kilograms of methamphetamine, 25 kilograms of cocaine and five kilograms of heroin inside 850 amplifiers.

On Feb. 7, Abo Abdo and his wife, Leonor Fajardo, were arrested in Australia.

That same day, RCMP executed a search warrant on a property where they located Guajardo and his girlfriend Rosa Fajardo, Abo Abdo’s sister-in-law.

They also searched the residence on Maple Grove Crescent, which is owned by Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, described in documents as “a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing for low- and middle-income households.”

“The residence was extremely dirty and disorganized inside,” the documents say of the Maple Grove residence. “Storage boxes and luggage were strewn about.”

In the master bedroom, RCMP allegedly found weapons and “various bundles” of cash.

More than $3 million was found in the home, including over $188,000 inside a Walmart bag and $390,000 in a Nike backpack.

A report by Fintrac found Guajardo “made four suspicious cash deposits” last year into three bank accounts.

The Civil Forfeiture Office files lawsuits to seize assets believed to be the proceeds or instruments of illegal activity, regardless of whether the asset owner has been charged or convicted, and even if they’ve been acquitted, of a crime.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

—With files from the Canadian Press

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