Former VICE employee tied to cocaine smuggling ring arrested by RCMP
A former Vice Canada editor who, in 2017, was famously accused of using the company's Toronto office to recruit drug mules as part of an international cocaine smuggling ring, has finally been arrested.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced in a media release this week that 28-year-old Yaroslav Pastukhov was apprehended on January 31 in Toronto and charged with Conspiracy to Import Cocaine.
Pastukhov, who edited Vice Canada's music vertical NOISEY between 2014 and 2016, is also known by the name Slava Pastuk, though police say he had been residing "under an alias" in Montreal prior to his arrest.
The RCMP have arrested former Vice Canada editor Yaroslav "Slava P" Pastukhov, alleging he conspired to import cocaine to Australia. The police say he had been living in Montreal under an alias. pic.twitter.com/W2yokEywRU— Sean Craig (@sdbcraig) February 4, 2019
A Toronto man named Ali Taki Lalji, 30, has also been arrested in connection with the case and faces the same charges as Pastukhov.
"In December 2015, five individuals (four Canadians and one American) flew to Sydney, Australia," reads the RCMP release. "All five were interdicted by Australian authorities at Sydney International Airport and found to be in possession of nearly 40 kilograms of cocaine."
Pastukhov and Lalji are both alleged to have "conspired with the five individuals" to traffic cocaine from Toronto to Sydney.
Those young individuals, some of which said they tried to back out of the trip but were threatened with violence, have been dealing with Australia's legal system ever since. All five are now serving prison sentences ranging from three years to seven-and-a-half years.
Meanwhile, Pastukhov has been roaming free, infuriating friends of those jailed abroad and prompting former colleagues to come forward with allegations of their own.
the feds finally charged my old vice editor— osman a. (@ozahmed_) February 5, 2019
Several people who had worked at Vice told the National Post in February of 2017 that Pastukhov tried to recruit them into smuggling drugs with offers of cash and free trips to Australia.
At least two of the alleged recruitment attempts were said to have taken place inside Vice Canada's Liberty Village office. The media company later said it cut ties with Pastukhov in February of 2016 after conducting an investigation into allegations of such behaviour.
Both Pastukhov and Lalji are currently in custody awaiting court hearings at Old City Hall in Toronto, the first of which took place on February 4 and the second of which is scheduled for tomorrow.
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