• Lori Noël

Canadian Koretskyy, ‘Russian Mike’, the Cocaine Smuggler linked to El Chapo, in U.S. Prison


The former Canadian transport truck driver is better known to some by his cocaine smuggling alias, Russian Mike. Mykhaylo Koretskyy has been sentenced to 15 years in U.S. prison. The sentencing took place in New York by U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty after Koretskyy pleaded guilty last December.


Forty-six-year-old Koretskyy has been linked to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel and the notorious boss, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Court-obtained documents proved that the smuggler travelled to Mazatlan to meet the cartel’s leader in March of 2013. In addition, Koretskyy was responsible for the transportation of at least three loads of cocaine between Canada and Mexico.


Koretskyy is also linked to Operation Harrington, a major RCMP investigation involving Guzman’s main Canadian contact, Stephen Tello. Tello was a real estate agent from Toronto convicted of trafficking drugs and was also sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Also involved in the drug investigation dubbed Operation Harrington are former B.C. fugitive Ryan Wedding, Canadian Jahanbakhsh Meshkati, who died during a targeting shooting in Burnaby in 2014, and former Vancouver resident Philipos Kollaros, who was shot and killed in Montreal in 2018.


In 2011, El Chapo was looking to expand the illegal business of narcotics trafficking into Canada. Koretskyy, it seems, was the man for the job.


During the trial, Koretskyy filed a memo justifying his involvement due to his business falling in “arrears” and having borrowed a “large amount of money” from a man identified as “Sergei.” It stated: “When Sergei demanded repayment and Mr. Koretskyy did not have the money, Sergei demanded he participate in the instant conspiracy.”


Koretskyy also stated that 2013, he travelled alone to Mexico and was brought, blindfolded, into the Sinaloan countryside to a warehouse where he met with Alex Cifuentes, a close associate of El Chapo. According to court documents, during the encounter, Koretskyy was surrounded by 40 armed guards. Koretskyy was given a Blackberry for contact and returned to Canada.


In court, the U.S. Attorney claimed that Koretskyy’s role was not as misguided as he claimed and that his drug smuggling was intentional. The attorney representative stated that Koretskyy and his truck business “helped Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel expand its reach through the United States north to the fertile Canadian market … In the process, he distributed and conspired to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, enough individual doses of point to destroy countless families and communities.” The U.S. attorney’s memo also stated that Koretskyy failed to mention his initial meeting with the drug lord, himself - El Chapo.


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