A Hawkesbury man has been accused of participating in a conspiracy to import cocaine into Canada from Colombia.

The Nova Scotia RCMP says the arrest of Raymond J.Y. Lachapelle and five others culminates an investigation that lasted a year and a half. They say in the spring of 2015, the RCMP received information that led to an investigation centered in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Police allege six men, four from Nova Scotia and two from Ontario, were planning to import “over one tonne” of cocaine into the country from Colombia. Two of the men, both from Nova Scotia, have also been charged with trafficking cocaine.

The RCMP says on February 23, residences in the Nova Scotia communities of Arichat, West Arichat, Baddeck and Hubley were searched. Police allege “25 firearms, a significant quantity of ammunition, three prohibited weapons, a stolen vehicle, a significant quantity of hashish, cash and tactical equipment” were found at the residences.

Lachapelle was arrested on Friday, February 24 in Hawkesbury, a spokesperson for the RCMP told The Review. She said he appeared in court in Nova Scotia on March 1, was released on conditions, and will be back in court on March 20.

Suspension in 1999

Lachapelle, a lawyer, was suspended from practicing for two months in 1999 after being found guilty by the Law Society of Upper Canada of misappropriating $71,000 from his great aunt’s estate, for which he was the trustee. The decision says Lachapelle started using cocaine in 1991 and became addicted within a few years. The situation got progressively worse, and “in 1994-95, his debts began to accumulate and he lost many of his clients. By 1996, his addiction was out of control and his health was degenerating.” That year, the decision says, he checked himself into a detox centre and then started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. By 1999, when the Law Society was deciding on the case,  he “had regained most of his former clients and was busier than ever in his law practice.”

In addition to the suspension, Lachapelle had to agree to monitoring by two other Hawkesbury lawyers, and attend a minimum of six AA meetings a month. But the decision also highlights the fact that Lachapelle had apparently recovered from a serious addiction. “Based on such factors as the testimony of witnesses who are experts in the treatment of addiction, Mr. Lachapelle is regarded as an excellent candidate for ongoing recovery and full rehabilitation,” it says. The law society gave him the option of serving his suspension in two non-consecutive months, “in light of the member’s obvious sincerity and commitment to recovery.”