In Canada, transnational criminals are exploiting government casinos to import deadly narcotics into Canada. And they’re laundering billions of dollars into real estate in Vancouver, the most expensive housing market in all of North America.
Behind all this crime are hidden links to China’s Communist Party.
This is detailed in a new book by investigative journalist Sam Cooper, titled “Wilful Blindness: How a Criminal Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated the West.” It is the result of ten years of research and reporting.
In this episode, Sam Cooper reveals what he discovered.
Jan Jekielek: Sam Cooper, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Sam Cooper: Thanks for having me. It’s an honor for me.
Mr. Jekielek: So Sam, you’ve written “Willful Blindness”. I’m unaware of another book like this. I’ve certainly haven’t read one. You take us on a journey, basically your own journey of almost 20 years of investigative reporting through the dark underbelly of how corruption and drugs, and frankly, sex trafficking and the Chinese Communist Party intersect, grow and metastasize in Canada, with impacts not just on Vancouver in Canada, but also on the world.
This is an unbelievable, unbelievable piece. I just want to let the audience know, this is my experience of reading the book. How does organized crime and the Chinese Communist Party intersect? Give me the rundown.
Mr. Cooper: The rundown is, you’re right, it’s actually about 10 years of my personal reporting in discovering this convergence of the party run out of Beijing, the Communist Party, and how it co-ops and uses, really, any tool at its disposal.
I knew for years that high-level Western intelligence reports alleged there was this unbelievable connection between state actors in China from the party, some of the most powerful people in the world, and how they interrelate with crime bosses. Especially for people born in a country such as Canada, it’s hard to believe. This is intelligence reporting that gets leaked in Canada, and still many people can’t believe it.
But my journey of discovery was really getting into this story through strange real estate happenings in Vancouver. Eventually, I discovered that this underground banking model that people are aware of—Macau Casinos—people are aware that the Chinese Communist Party is very active in Hong Kong. People know of those indications, where the party uses thugs to intimidate democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
But I was finding that this was happening in Canada. Really, the journey of discovery is Canada, especially the city of Vancouver, which has become a global node in the Party’s efforts to infiltrate democratic societies through purchases of real estate, through efforts to get into technology companies in Western nations, and through the use of tycoons and industrialists that travel the world playing Baccarat. And while they’re playing Baccarat, they’re not just entertaining themselves. They are exporting capital.
But there’s also another layer to it. There are more nefarious activities I found which could involve, to use an intelligence term, threat financing. This could mean that with money transacted in casinos, it looks like a so-called loan shark giving a high roller money to use in a casino in Vancouver, but it also could include a drug transaction.
It could include providing money to someone. They may have some political influence operations or some money to spread around in politics in Canada. So there’s just so many different lines of, you could say, attack being used by the Party in very sophisticated methods that I found often run through casinos, and to a shocking extent, Vancouver.
I have to say that, for Canadians, it’s unbelievable to think that a hockey bag with up to a million dollars cash can be walked into a casino to buy chips. It looks, smells—it’s a drug trafficking transaction. This is happening in Canada, not always in broad daylight, sometimes around midnight in the casinos. But it was happening. And I found just so much more was happening, flowing out of those transactions.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about the casinos just for a second, because there’s multiple things happening with these giant hockey bags of rolls of twenties that you were describing. These are so big because they’re small bills. But people cash out, and then they get big bills. And this is, frankly, an incredible money laundering operation, isn’t it?
Mr. Cooper: It’s incredible. To break that down—look, drug trafficking organizations around the world have a problem. It’s not really a problem for them to make money. It’s a problem to move money.
So when they sell fentanyl,cocaine, methamphetamines, oe ecstasy on the street, they get $20 bills. They’re often soiled. We know that because of deaths in cities like Vancouver from fentanyl heroin overdoses. But they create a huge volume, literally warehouses of $20 bills. They’re useless for the drug trafficking organizations unless they can get the volume down.
How do they do that? One of the simplest ways and the most apparent ways in Vancouver casinos is that the drug trafficking organizations hire loan sharks, or runners, as they’re called, to go into the casino. They identify high rolling gamblers, and they provide these $20 bills, $10,000 bundles wrapped in elastic bands, in the manner of street drug trafficking.
The VIP gamblers go to the casino cash cage. They get their chips, which have values of up to $5,000. They gamble and they can receive, if they win and if they’re lucky, they can get a casino check. The money laundering can flow from that. You can see how quickly you can get a down payment if you have a check for $500,000 to buy a home. Or, simply, the $20 bills are exchanged for clean $100 bills wrapped to Canadian banking standards.
That is just the most simple and apparent way that these volumes of $20 bills are reduced to bankable hundred dollars. Again, sophisticated transactions flow from that. But my book, my reporting discovery was showing that simple, direct money laundering method of getting those twenties, turning them into hundreds, and banking them.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible. The other part of it though, is that this is obviously highly suspicious behavior. There are people watching this happening. There is some sort of regulation over these casinos?
Mr. Cooper: There is regulation. These are BC [British Columbia] government casinos. There’s a gaming policy enforcement branch. There’s the BC Lottery Corporation. all of these. We’ve made a deal in Canada. You can run legal casinos, which, by the way, most people know casinos do have some interaction with crime, historically.
You can run the casinos for Canadian people. You can take tax dollars and put it into hospitals and schools if you run it by the law. That is, if you see suspicious transactions, you not only report them, but ethically and legally, you should be doing something to stop them. That wasn’t happening in British Columbia.
I’m not the only reporter that was onto this story. But when I jumped onto it, there was such a level of proof that I obtained through leaked confidential documents that showed this is the scandal here.
BC’s government knew these transactions were occurring. They knew the loan sharks were drug traffickers. They knew of all the crime connected—the human trafficking, the prostitution, murders, extortion, and they didn’t stop it. That’s the scandal.
Narration: When we contacted the British Columbia attorney general, a Ministry spokesperson told The Epoch Times that after the government changed in 2017, they, “Acted quickly to disrupt financial crime.” They said, “After an independent review found large scale transnational money-laundering in BC casinos, the BC government implemented a number of reforms to address dirty money in casinos and beyond.” Furthermore, “We were closing real estate loopholes, strengthening policies and procedures in gambling facilities, and improving laws to ensure those who break the law face appropriate consequences.”
Mr. Jekielek: This is part of what you call the Vancouver model. I’m going to get you to explain that to me a little later. And in fact, you extrapolate later on. And you say, in fact, based on what I’ve seen happening north of Toronto, this is actually the Canada model. Which, frankly, chills me to the bone.
Because as you said earlier, we don’t tend to think of ourselves, as Canadians, we don’t tend to think of ourselves as being amidst hotbeds of this kind of activity.
Mr. Cooper: That is absolutely right, and we can go farther. It’s actually the Macau model of money laundering. This is how it works. It has been happening for decades in Macau. The Hong Kong tycoon owned those casinos. They essentially had monopolies for many years.
We know China is an immensely rich country now. Of course, it’s a communist country. The people have a limit of $50,000 they can export per year. So how do those people that are very connected on the high side in the Chinese Communist Party, very wealthy narcos and maybe even some legitimate industrialists, get their money out of China?
They go to a Macau casino and they make a deal with the Triads. I’m going to put a credit down in a Chinese bank. I’ll arrive in Macau. I’ll have a good time. You’ll pay me out that cash. I can gamble. Now I can get a check out of the casino. Now my money can go abroad. That model was simply transplanted to Vancouver, and of course, Toronto. Underground banking allowed those same transactions.
I talk about a man, a very prolific loan shark, a Richmond [BC] organized crime figure who would travel to Macau. He would travel to China. He would travel to Hong Kong. He would recruit these ultra-wealthy Baccarat gamblers and say there’s another market in town. Fly into Richmond, BC. Put your credit down in a Chinese bank, and I’ll pay you out in cash. There’s no problem. You can buy the casino chips. We have good deals. Not only that, I have underground casinos in my Richmond mansions that you can gamble in. Come to Canada.
That is the Vancouver model. It’s happening in Markham, Ontario, in northern Toronto. It’s the Canada model and it all really grew out of that Macau, Hong Kong, Chinese Communist Party narco trafficker nexus that has been running for years.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about your reporting on Paul King Jin. He is obviously a central figure in this book. Is it not six months ago or maybe just a little bit longer that he was in the midst of an incredibly high profile shooting? He was also on top of and involved in this whole, what you call, PPE buyback scheme.
Around mid-January 2020, intelligence services became aware that there was this huge buyback of various personal protective equipment by China from all parts of the world, Canada, and the U.S. This encapsulates how all these different pieces are linked together. Let’s extrapolate on this. Let’s dig into this one.
Mr. Cooper: Sure. It is incredibly complex stuff. What I found in my journey of discovery and reporting for this book was a simple rule. When you follow the big money—this is a cardinal rule of good journalism—follow the big money and follow the big players, they are so prolific that they will be involved in many different activities.
What we have learned is, with regards to the Chinese version of organized crime, that is even more true. The big players in criminal networks will interact freely with legitimate professionals. Once that interaction occurs, you have to ask yourself the question, “Are those professionals, high-level lawyers, politicians, and industrialists, are they really legitimate anymore, if they’re directly doing business with people like Paul King Jin?
So yes, let’s jump into the PPE operation. People know that when we really discovered in the West how virulent this infection was, people looked for safety masks. They had disappeared out of the retailers, the big box stores, and everywhere. I found, along with some others, that China, the Chinese Communist Party, has used its network called the United Front.
We know the United Front Work Department is directed from inside China. Unfortunately, they co-opt and use what were great grassroots community associations around the world that are meant to help people of Chinese ethnicity succeed, integrate, and really support each other.
But the party has really come in from the top and taken over, unfortunately, those associations. So they look like legitimate community associations, but they’re run out of consulates.
We’ll fast forward here. What happened in the crisis of the pandemic is that consulates in Vancouver and Toronto put out orders. They directed leaders of local United Front associations to collect all the PPE they could—bring it in and warehouse it in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, and then ship it back over to the mainland.
We can only guess, well, we can do more than guess. In Beijing, they knew how serious the pandemic was. They covered it up. The rest of the world was in the dark while they gathered up this PPE around the world.
It took me a long time, but I did discover that leaders of these United Front organizations had connections to people that I knew from my RCMP documents, who were serious high level suspects in the casino money laundering rings in Vancouver.
Finally, in the final portions of reporting this book, I found that Paul King Jin himself was credited for sending $20,000 worth of safety masks back to mainland China.
How do we know? This is reported from within the United Front Work Department-linked website inside of China that credits Mr. Jin. Let’s just think about this for a minute. Mr. Jin’s sources of income, allegedly, come from loan sharking and large-scale money laundering. We know the allegations are that he isconnected to what the police call “the fentanyl kingpins.”
This is serious organized crime. So where is he getting the money to buy up Canadian safety masks and send them to China? It’s reasonable to suggest that criminal proceeds were being used by Mr. Jin, and we can reasonably say, others around him to send PPE back to China.
Mr. Jekielek: This shooting that he was involved in, the person he was sitting beside was basically murdered—assassinated, from what I can tell. Anyway, this was in a Japanese Izakaya restaurant. The way that you described it also painted a picture of what these groups are actually into.
Mr. Cooper: Yes, that’s right. In the afterword chapter, I get into some shocking revelations, and I do the network mapping that shows how businesses, which would appear to be legitimate, are actually part of an underground banking node to rival Hong Kong, to rival Shenzhen, and to rival Macau—but in Canada, on the West Coast.
So I take the reader on a drone-level journey, looking down at restaurants strongly associated with organized crime patrons and gun shops very nearby associated with casino money laundering suspects. We look at fentanyl trafficking labs.
Listen, we’ve just heard in the past week of a lab in a nearby suburb close to Richmond that was allegedly able to produce 13 million potentially fatal doses of fentanyl per week. That is enough to kill a third of all Canadians in a week if they distributed that drug, which is at fatal toxic substance.
I show how these mansions are used as fentanyl labs. Richmond has become a global trans-shipment point for fentanyl going around the world, especially to countries such as Australia and Japan. The fentanyl is coming in precursors from China, it’s being produced in labs in Richmond, and it’s going around the world.
Mr. Jekielek: So briefly, before we continue, tell me what exactly is the United Front? What’s its purpose? And then how is it connected with the Triads, with Chinese organized crime?
Mr. Cooper: The United Front, simply, is a communist party tool to try to win over the maximum number of supporters for the parties objectives. We know that it’s run out of Beijing. It’s run from the Party, right from the top. What they do is a very dark thing around the world.
Again, they believe, the Party, that if you are of ethnic Chinese origin and you may have lived in other countries for decades, they believe that you are still under the Party’s control. It’s a form of—I put forward and experts such as Jonathan Manford put forward—it’s a form of racism.
They’re saying you may be a Democrat. You may think you live in a democracy, but you’re controlled by the party. So that’s the ideological basis of the United Front.
It’s also an elite capture tool. Through associations around the world, they will try to influence politicians in democracies and business leaders. They try to spread around largess and money to show that the Chinese dream of Xi Jinping is rival of the American dream of freedom. They’re trying to show their wealth. They’re trying to throw their influence around.
How does this connect to organized crime? An expert such as David Mulroney, the former ambassador to China, tells me in the book, through the earliest days of the rise of the party, power has been interrelated with the rise and fall of various crime bosses. In very simple terms, as to what the party does, let’s take Hong Kong as a prime example.
Before Hong Kong was taken back from British control and brought back under the control of Beijing, there were emissaries who were sent to Hong Kong saying, “You are a tycoon. We know that you’re doing business with heroin syndicates. You’re free to do your business as long as you work with us politically, you help us in our business, and you help us control populations.”
How does that manifest itself? Again, we’ve seen in the past couple of years, thugs in white shirts beating democracy protesters in Hong Kong. It’s strongly suspected, if not proven, that those are Triad thugs, co-opted and used by the Party to fulfill the Party’s political objectives. That’s a simple example.
Mr. Jekielek: This just somehow really struck me. As you were describing the scenario, there was this one Uyghur Canadian that was intimidated by someone who was connected with the Chinese Communist Party media.
Mr. Cooper: Yes. Through the network mapping, we could see these people were at the Vancouver Art Gallery for a festival of Chinese culture. It was put on by, according to our sources, the controlling level United Front Work Department group on Canada’s west coast. Chinese consulate leaders were there.
This Uyghur woman was holding a flag and protesting what is called a genocide. She feels that she was told to leave. Her right of expression was suppressed, she believes. A photograph showed a woman who claims to be a journalist, who is married to a former China Daily journalist. Both of them happened to be very active in these United Front groups in Vancouver. These are the people that intimidated this woman who was protesting for relatives that she says are not only under threat, but some of them are detained in Xinjiang.
Mr. Jekielek: The thing that comes out in the book is kind the depths that the Chinese Communist Party will go to. It’s almost like no method is not allowed to be used in order to co-op, to subvert, and to intimidate. How do you read this? That’s what came through to me in a big way.
Mr. Cooper: You’re on the right track. Look, have we had an incident in Canada similar to Hong Kong, where white-shirted thugs hit democracy protesterswith canes. I’m not sure we’ve gone that far. But my sources, the people inside that church in Vancouver and similar people at protests in Toronto say they are under attack.
They have seen threats on WeChat channels, where people say should we bring guns? Should we bring bats to these counterprotests? They say that they have received direct threats.
The Uyghur woman said that she got a call about a week after being told to leave that celebration at the Vancouver Art Gallery from a man with a very strong Mandarin accent telling her, “Stop your protesting or your relatives in Xinjiang will be in danger.”
So you’re right. What the book shows is that people that are connected to consulate leaders in Vancouver and Toronto and alleged organized crime figures are involved in surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of people that are protesting for democracy and protesting for peace in Hong Kong.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve made this connection with the Chinese Communist Party and drug trafficking. This is the million dollar question, I suppose, and I want to hear your take on it. Does the Chinese Communist Party control the fentanyl traffic into Canada? And by proxy, all over the place? How does it do that, if that is the case?
Mr. Cooper: This is a level of proof where we are into circumstantial territory now. My book, in the afterword, reveals that Canadian police sources say that they know and they are aware. If China wanted to stop the production of fentanyl precursors, China could. The factories and the flood of chemicals could be stopped in a few days, because control is absolute with the Party. If they wanted to stop it, they could. They’re not stopping it.
Why? I report that Canadian police say there was a negotiation occurring where Beijing wanted to insert police agents in Canada so that it could go after a so-called ‘fox hunt’ [Operation Fox Hunt] or Skynet economic fugitive targets. At a certain point, leaders in Ottawa and the RCMP said we can’t accept this particular police liaison, which they believe may be very linked to Chinese intelligence activities. We can’t accept that.
What came back? Beijing said, “Okay, you want help with the fentanyl that you say is coming into your country? We can’t help you because you’re not working with us.”
So what we can prove, according to my sources, is there’s an omission. There’s leverage on the part of China’s leaders saying that we’re not going to stop the fentanyl coming into your country unless you do what we want. It’s as simple as that.
Now what about control? My book, again, shows cases where state actors in China are seen to be directing these drug trafficking organizations in Vancouver and intervening in gang conflicts between various Triads. So that is proof that someone very powerful in Beijing does control gangs.
How much direction and intentionality is there? There are levels of proof that I’m still looking for. But I can say without a doubt that the influence of the party comes over and above very high level transnational gangs.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible. In the book, Ambassador Mulroney describes it as an obviously incestuous relationship. I think that’s quite accurate.
So the crazy thing is that we knew that this was all coming 20 years ago. This was documented in the Sidewinder Report, which frankly, your book vindicates, because this was an incredibly important piece of intelligence. You mentioned in the book that maybe it wasn’t a hundred percent accurate.
It was basically sidelined—I don’t know if moth balls is the right word. But early on, 20 years ago, we saw the building of these networks as you described them. So tell me briefly about Sidewinder and why you think no one knew about it for years.
Mr. Cooper: Mothballed would be the right word. In the book, I take the reader into the Canadian High Commission in the early 1990s, where some very diligent Canadian investigators were the progenitors of the Sidewinder report. They reported back to Ottawa numerous intelligence cables about very high level tycoons with connections to Chinese intelligence, with connections to the Party, and with connections to ownership in Macau casinos, who were attempting to immigrate to Canada, even though it was well known in Western intelligence that they had these Triad connections.
In some cases, they were the actual dragon heads or leaders of Triads. So these investigators felt that their reporting was ignored. They felt that allegations of corruption in the immigration process were ignored to the extent that the RCMP had to investigate. And then it was found that their investigation hit a wall. That is, the higher up the investigation went in Ottawa, the more barriers it seemed to run into.
So all of this reporting did result in this groundbreaking Sidewinder report that really led the world, with Canadian intelligence showing the connections between organized crime and the Party and their efforts to infiltrate the West.
It’s a function of how explosive the report was that it was mothballed. It was buried. My book makes the case from one of the people very involved in birthing that report that it was actually destroyed by someone at a high level in Canada’s government and stopped from further distribution.
So the questions being raised are that if people in Canada’s government destroyed it, now, when we look back 20 years later, are they responsible for some of the fentanyl deaths that are occurring now? Did they allow economic underground banks to grow? Did they allow Triad tycoons to buy large portions of a Canadian real estate?
It definitely wasn’t a perfect report. The authors would say there were some cases that could use more work. In fact, they wanted more work to be done on these files. But looking back in hindsight, they got so much right.
Again, my journey of discovery in seeing those allegations proven for my own eyes, when I looked at these connections in British Columbia, that’s what I can add to Canadian law enforcement and intelligence. I can help readers see and understand what was seen very presciently about 20 years ago by great investigators.
Mr. Jekielek: One thing that really jumped out at me was this case of Cameron Ortis, one of the highest level civilians in the RCMP ever, an analyst who had access to basically all of the most classified information. It just struck me as one of the most colossal counterintelligence failures you could imagine. Can you just outline what happened here? It was mind blowing to me.
Mr. Cooper: It is a mind blowing and fascinating case, if not the biggest Canadian intelligence failure. You’re right, it must be in the top handful. We should say that Mr. Ortis is awaiting his trial. There’s been a lengthy journey of legal discovery, of back and forth between the Crown and defense, and the allegations haven’t been proven. However, to my knowledge, they haven’t been denied. There’s a mountain of evidence.
Let’s break it down to who he was. He was widely acknowledged, a brilliant academic that came out of the University of British Columbia. It’s a good point right here to say, his network at UBC had some very pro-China professors. Maybe that will warrant further examination down the road.
To jump to his RCMP career, he was recruited around 2007. He entered the force and rose like the proverbial rocket ship up through the ranks to the point where, within a few years, it’s said that he had the ear of Commissioner Bob Paulson, to the extent where he had visibility on some of the most sensitive intelligence in the West.
These would be politically sensitive cases—knowledge of where those well-placed sources are in countries such as China, Iran, and Russia and nowledge of how cybernetworks are becoming the frontline of a connection between organized crime and state actors.
So what did he do? Again, these allegations are shocking to Western ears. It’s alleged that he was for his own personal gain giving protection to some of the biggest money launderers, underground bankers, and cybercriminals in the world, to the extent where they were being investigated by Five Eyes [Intelligence Alliance] law enforcement.
He allegedly was trying to sell Five Eyes’ law enforcement plans to these super criminals so they could evade detection. When you boil it down, what is that? That is a form of protection that could be similar to the corruption that this book says is occurring in China, where powerful officials give protection to certain criminals, letting them do their work. There’s a “Guanxi,” (關係), an exchange of benefits between the parties.
There’s so many angles the Ortis case follows. Another one that has yet to be examined is, could he not only have benefited from selling RCMP plans to high-level organized crime? Could he have guided the RCMP away from targeting certain organizations, certain countries, certain influence networks, and certain espionage cells?
That is really the frontier of the case on Ortis. I don’t have confidence that Canada’s justice system will get to the bottom of it. You could say that I’m skeptical. We know that there are secrets in that case, according to the allegations I’ve heard along with my sources, that really, the level of compromise is almost beyond imagination.
Narration: Ortis is currently charged with revealing secrets to an unnamed recipient and for planning to give classified intelligence to an unspecified foreign entity or a terrorist organization. Ortis’ lawyer did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s a whole massive case that you did extensive reporting on this “E-pirate” case that essentially disappeared, as far as I can tell. I don’t know what its status is, but this was a massive expose into this whole money laundering system with Silver Internation. What happened with it?
Mr. Cooper: That’s the multi-billion dollar question. Look, this is being reported by the Financial Action Task Force, an international, intergovernmental group. They were laundering over $1 billion per year for Chinese narcos, Mexican and Colombian narcos, and Middle East narcos, out of Vancouver.
This is one currency exchange business in a Richmond office tower moving about $1 billion around the world—moving drug proceeds around the world and facilitating how cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and ecstasy is shifted worldwide.
E-Pirate, they had a handle on this. It’s believed to be the largest ever Canadian money laundering and casino money laundering investigation. Indeed, they had a mountain of evidence, literally phone books, tens of thousands of gigabytes of data. And the case blew up.
What we do know is that an organized crime informant that helped the RCMP build this case was exposed to the defense lawyers through an error of data discovery between the Crown and the defense. So that is one known cause of why the case was dropped, but could there be deeper reasons?
There are some indications that at least one other informant might have been exposed. And yet, there are ways to get around those problems such as witness protection. So are there even deeper problems with that case? I believe it’s still to be known.
But what we do know is that people in BC had their hopes. They were hoping for so much, that this network, the Vancouver model, could really suffer a dent if E-Pirate succeeded, and it failed. So we’re only left looking for answers.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. It’s incredible. The the other part, and you outlined this very well in the book, is that because this has been building for so long or perhaps some of the folks that you interviewed in the book speak to this, it has even become very embedded into the political establishment. That’s what you say.
Some of these very high level organized crime figures have been photographed with some of the highest level Canadian politicians, ostensibly at these pay-for-access events. There’s even this whole WeChat scenario that you describe in the book.
Actually, that made international headlines because it was a Canadian politician’s account that was being used, essentially, to attack people and dissidents. So how co-opted is the Canadian establishment in Canadian politics in your view? And what does this mean? What does this tell us about other countries like the U.S., for example, where a lot of our viewers are?
Mr. Cooper: For the United States, for Australia, for the United Kingdom, and I believe for Canada, clearly, this crime model is a proxy for what is occurring in these countries. Look, Alex Joske, the excellent United Front researcher in Australia, said my book shows these patterns are of a such extreme fascination and danger in Canada. But he said the same thing is happening in the United States, Australia, Philippines, and United Kingdom.
Let me put it this way. I have to rely, in some cases, on my sources that have even more visibility on Five Eyes intelligence and connections. They say Canada may even be an outlier, in terms of compromise or elite capture.
I know that David Mulroney, the former ambassador to China, believes Canada is what he calls, “A very sleepy and naive target with regards to this United Front infiltration, Chinese espionage, and the use of organized crime to go after Canadian politicians, technology companies, and real estate.
How compromised is Canada? Look, put it this way. When isn’t a picture of an organized crime figure and a Chinese state figure donating something like a million dollars to the foundation of our prime minister’s family, the Trudeau Foundation, proof of wrongdoing with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? The politicians can, and do say, “Look, that money, there’s no influence there.”
Okay. We take that. But the people on the other side clearly advertise that they believe they have been successful in telling China’s story and influencing people such as John Ashe, the former Head of the United Nations, who was implicated in a major FBI corruption sting involving—wait for it—a Macau casino baron, secretive casino transactions, alleged real estate money laundering, and influence peddling with the United Nations.
I point to the same networks, the same people, who personally advertise that they have been successful in rubbing shoulders with Canadian politicians. If I had a source from CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] beside me in this interview, I believe they would say Canada is in deep trouble.
There’s a deep compromise, not necessarily by the people that I show in my book receiving donations or meeting at pay-for-access events with RCMP suspects. But certainly, there are people compromised in Canadian politics. And look, we only have to go back to 2010 when the former CSIS director, Mr. Fadden, warned about the level of compromise in BC, and he had his knuckles severely wrapped by the Ottawa establishment.
It reminds me of what happened to the authors of the Sidewinder report 20 years ago. There’s just a deafness on the part of Ottawa’s establishment. Maybe we could say it’s a willful blindness. I hope that this book leads to inquiries and that they get deeper into the facts and evidence.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. I certainly hope so, too. I was just thinking about this. As you basically found the smoking gun evidence of United Front and organized crime interconnectivity, you got targeted by the United Front yourself. At the Epoch Times, of course, we’ve been favorite targets of the United Front for some time, so we are aware of how all this works.
I want you to talk about your experience with that. What actually happened? What methods were used to attempt to silence you?
Mr. Cooper: Sure. I’d like to start by saying, as you know, that journalists never want to become part of the story.But I do devote a chapter in my book to this counterattack on my PPE story. Really, what occurred was that it wasn’t just me. I had to go to sources in law enforcement and intelligence that understand how the United Front and organized crime work to get confirmation that I, in fact, became a disinformation target by the very same people that I had exposed for their involvement in the PPE operations.
The book lays out a detailed chronology of how petitions were rolled out. Meetings were held on Zoom by a journalist, a very influential, Beijing-friendly journalist in Vancouver suggested—we have the transcript, it’s not in doubt—suggested that a lawsuit be put forward against myself. China should strike back hard because this report, from what we understood, really angered Beijing, and showed the connections between organized crime and the United Front and the direct hands in the PPE operation.
Through the help of fellow reporters and people in the Mandarin speaking community, I was able to monitor WeChat discussions AND Zoom chats in which these actors connected to the United Front planned these counterattacks against my reporting. There was the suggestion that a multitude of small lawsuits be brought against me to discourage and weigh me down.
It was reported by the Toronto Star. It was even suggested they dig into my tax records to try to embarrass me. Things like this, which are I put in the category of what we call “oppo”, or opposition research. Let’s just put it simply, there was an effort to shoot the messenger.
I had to reach out to my sources to get advice. I had a lot of support from people in the Mandarin speaking community, and the Hong Kong Canadian community. Look, WeChat can be a double-edged sword. My sources were inside those meetings where plotting was occurring against Canadian journalists.
Indeed, a story was broken by my colleague, Bob Mackin, that a liberal MP in Vancouver, her own office had a WeChat group in which they were trying to crowdsource for this planned, baseless lawsuit against me.
Narration: Was MP Joyce Murray aware of what occurred in the WeChat group her office created? Her office told the Epoch Times, “Attacking the integrity of hardworking journalists is not acceptable.”. The office said this post which was made by a participant in the group was, “Unacceptable, and in no way reflects the minister’s views.The individual who posted is no longer in this group.”
Mr. Cooper: I’ll give a little more of a hint of what I reveal in the chapter. So many situations come full circle for me in this book and with reporting. I found that not only United Front actors, but the very E-Pirate target casino actors that I had exposed years before were involved, according to WeChat records, in crowdsourcing funding for a lawsuit against me.
So that just shows that when you expose very dark dealings, the Party, the United Front, and organized crime will start disinformation campaigns and attacks against you.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible. It’s similar to what they did to some of the Epoch Times reporting around the origins of coronavirus back in April of 2020. They tried to call this racist activity.
Mr. Cooper: It’s unfortunate that that is a tactic that the Party, as they do in so many areas, may try to co-opt a legitimate issue and turn it into their twisted issue. So yes, it’s not a surprise that researchers that have exposed what’s happening in Xinjiang, researchers that have called for a deeper examination of the origins of the pandemic in Wuhan, researchers that have said we shouldn’t just accept the Party’s line on what occurred in Wuhan, that we need scientific research and further examination—these researchers, these academics, and these journalists are attacked.
I do think there’s value in my book, again, not in painting myself as a victim of an attack, but in examining how the United Front works. And to get back to the ideology, as my sources in Washington, Ottawa, and Australia said, “The United Front is a tool to try to use the Party’s friends against its enemies, to try to neutralize the middle, and to try to gain as many numbers to its side as it can.
So I found it shocking that a Canadian politician’s office was used in a disinformation attack against a Canadian journalist searching for the truth, with WeChat as a vector and tool.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Incredible. It’s also wonderful how the journalistic community rallied to your support. That was a great example of support, in terms of good reporting. That’s a great example of what I’d like to see.
Sam, I could talk to you for hours about this incredible book that you’ve written. Truly, I could talk to you for hours. There’s another book like it. I would encourage everyone watching to pick up this book. It’s Willful Blindness by Sam Cooper. It’s also written in the first person, it really spoke to me and it makes really compelling reading.
I often found myself at the edge of my seat trying to see what would happen next. “What could this investigator find? What would he find? What corruption existed just around the corner?”
Sam, any final thoughts before we finish up?
Mr. Cooper: Thank you for saying that. There was a lot of hard work that went into that perspective. I need to give credit to Terry Glavin, one of Canada’s best journalists. He helped me put forward that voice. Right from the start, my idea was to go through the eyes of the investigators who really tried to blow the whistle. Some of them had their careers ruined, because they were trying to stop dirty money.
I believe that they really had a passion. They had a story to tell, and in some ways I was their vessel. Again, I do think that using myself and my own journey of discovery helps the reader understand from the level of the average person that doesn’t get to read CIA or CSIS files.
Mr. Jekielek: Sam Cooper, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.
Mr. Cooper: Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure for me.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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