(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Appearing in courtroom 301 on Thursday, May 31, 2018, is 38-year-old Ottawa gang member Abel Solano Santana. His Honour Judge Danial Newton presiding, along with Gord Mackenzie as Federal Crown, and Anne Pollak as the defence lawyer.

Santana is brought up from the cells in the basement and is sporting a new moustache, along with sparkling clean handcuffs and a clear sense of displeasure.


His Honour begins by reading the mostly joint submission presented by the Crown and defence.


Project coast was a major drug unit operation which sought to dismantle trafficking in prescription medication including fentanyl in the communities of Timmins, Chapleau and other north eastern Ontario communities with gang ties to Ottawa. The operation was a joint project between Ontario provincial police and Nishnawbe Aski Police Service.

Investigators involved in project coast identified Mr. Salanos Santana as a potential fentanyl trafficker. On April 29th, 2016 Sanatana had outstanding warrants and a bail condition to not be in Thunder Bay, and not to be outside of his residence after 10:00 pm.


Police identified Mr. Salanos Santana during a traffic stop, and he was arrested on outstanding warrants and a breach of bail conditions. During a search of Mr. Salanos jacket, police located what looked like Percocet pills, but were later determined to contain fentanyl.

During the following search of a hotel room in which Mr. Salanos Santana was staying, police discovered Ziploc bags, $1560 and a pillow case full of 4,500 pills which looked like percocets but were later determined to contain the highly dangerous drug fentanyl.


Santana was born in the Dominican Republic, his family moved to Canada when he was about 12 years old. He was treated poorly by his mother growing up, and attended high school, only completing up to grade 11. Santana is the father of 3 children.

His criminal record begins in 1999, which includes assault, break and enter, uttering threats, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and credit card fraud.


Santana states he was raised from infancy to 9 years old by his stable, loving home with his father. After the death of his father, his mother took custody of him, in which his brother and two stepsisters moved to Canada with his mother. After moving to Canada his life became difficult. Santana claims his mother had mental health issues and used corporal punishment on him.

Santana was sent back to the Dominican Republic due to his behaviour issues on at least two occasions, and after one of these occasions, Santana decided to move out on his own. He struggled financially and attended high school for a short period, which was followed by his first run-in with the criminal justice system.

Santana’s teenage daughter is now reportedly struggling emotionally.

His now ex-wife has a business pursuit which is now unsuccessful. Santana himself is reported to not have any mental health issues.

Santana’s step-father said that Santana consistently motivated to make money illegally, due to his poor education.

Admitted by Santana himself, he does not have any drug addiction issues.



Santana has had a poor response to community supervision and incarceration. He has been found guilty of 4 misconducts during his current period of custody. It is suggested that he should be put in to the integrated correctional program model at the Stony Mountain Penitentiary, should a federal penitentiary sentence be deemed appropriate.


Recommended community supervision conditions include:

  • Residing at a place approved by his probation officer
  • Seeking and maintaining meaningful employment and educational opportunities
  • Not possessing or consuming any unlawful drugs substances unless prescribed
  • Attend counselling and any rehabilitation programs as instructed by his probation officer

Santana has expressed remorse and is concerned by the impact by his absence on his daughter, impact on the victim, and the community.

His offence relates to a Schedule 1 substance, schedule 1 drugs are recognized as having a tremendous harm to the community. Fentanyl is even more dangerous than other schedule 1 drugs and has a huge lethal risk to not only buyers and users but to the community such as police officers.


The Crown submits a Doctors toxicology report about how dangerous fentanyl is to its users.


The Crown is seeking a global sentence of 10 years in this case due to the circumstances, due to the fact it is fentanyl, the sheer quantity and utter danger nature of the drug. The crown cedes that any pre-sentence custody should be enhanced by 1.5x due to conditions at the Thunder Bay District Jail.

The Crown also requests:

  • Lifetime firearms ban
  • DNA sample submitted to the DNA database
  • Forfeiture of phones and cash seized

His Honour notes that Santana has already served 2 years and 1 month, which is enhanced to 3 years and 45 days.



Aggravating factors submitted by the Crown are:

  • The extreme risk posed by fentanyl
  • The vulnerability of the communities in which the pills were being trafficked
  • Previous convictions for possession of a schedule 1 substance (fentanyl) for trafficking
  • Previous conviction for possession of a schedule 2 substance for trafficking (2009)
  • Breaching bail conditions (curfew)
  • Breaching bail conditions (not reside with surety)
  • Breaching bail conditions (not possess substances banned under the controlled drugs and substances act CDSA)
  • Santana is not an addict and was motivated by financial gain
  • The exceptionally high quantity of pills (5000)

There was a lack of mitigating factors, as His Honour begins to read out case law that states that offenders, even first time offenders, should expect to receive penitentiary sentences when trafficking fentanyl, and this is particularly so when offenders are motivated by profit.

His Honour, states that by imposing his upcoming sentence decision, he has taken into consideration the importance of the principles of deterrence and denunciation when sentencing drug traffickers, as well as the fact that the sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of the responsibility of the offender.

His Honour orders Santana to stand up, then sentences him to 8 years in custody, with 4 years and 320 days remaining in a federal institution.


His Honour lays down a lifetime fire ban, a victim surcharge of $200 with 2 years to pay, DNA order, the forfeiture of 2 phones, $1560 seized cash, and the destruction of the fentanyl pills.

His Honour recommends that Santana attends the Integrated Correctional Program at Stony Mountain Penitentiary. Further, he states that there is specific programming for drug-related offenders to learn how to engage in alternatives to crime regarding finances.


In April 2008, he was charged in a home invasion with a replica handgun.


In November 2011 Abel Santana Solano, aged 32 of Gatineau, and 27-year-old Alejandro Wilky Santana-Espinosa of Ottawa were both charged with sexual assault with a firearm, kidnapping, forcible confinement, pointing a firearm and armed robbery.

“Those two guys are well known by the police force and it’s a possibility that they are related to organized crime,” said Const. Pierre Lanthier of the Gatineau police.

French-language newspaper Le Droit is reporting Espinosa was just released from prison after serving 44 months for killing a motorcyclist in 2007 while speeding.

The charges come after a 20-year-old woman said she was leaving a bar in Ottawa’s ByWard Market when she was taken against her will and brought to a home on Rue des Capucines in Gatineau’s Hull sector.


In May 2016 as part of Project Coast, 21 search warrants were executed, police seized:

  • 57,792 methamphetamine tablets,
  • 7,229 oxycodone pills,
  • 706 grams of cocaine,
  • 476.6 grams of marihuana, and
  • 154.25 fentanyl patches.
  • Police also seized more than 252-thousand dollars in Canadian currency, one shotgun and a bulletproof vest.

OPP made arrests at homes on Treaty Court and Pineglade Crescent in Ottawa on Thursday May 19, 2016. In all nine people from Ottawa and Renfrew were arrested. Police say two of the men arrested, Abel Solano-Santana, 37, and Adnan “Ace” Fazeli, 31, are well-known Ottawa gang members, with long criminal records.

Also arrested:

  • Michael Chenier, 31 of Orleans
  • Patrick Gallant, 26, of Ottawa
  • Christopher Hewitt, 30 of Ottawa
  • Holli Kasaboski , 29, of Renfrew
  • Michelle Mousseau , 23, of Ottawa
  • Two young offenders were also arrested.

With Files From Thunder Bay Courthouse – Inside Edition