Man who disappeared with two others in August linked to B.C. drug trade

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A missing B.C. man was allegedly involved in organized crime and drug trafficking, which prompted threats against him in 2005.

Mihai Vornicu and his wife, Marie Olarte, were reported missing by the Williams Lake RCMP last August. An acquaintance of the couple, Robert Dragoescu, was also reported missing the day police announced Vornicu and Olarte’s disappearance.

An investigation into the disappearances is “ongoing,” an RCMP spokesperson replied in an email.

Postmedia has learned that in the months before Vornicu disappeared, a Toronto Police Service disciplinary tribunal heard about his alleged connections to marijuana trafficking and a drug-related kidnapping.

In 2005, an acquaintance of Toronto Police Const. Ioan-Florin Floria allegedly reported to the officer that he had been kidnapped and tortured. The Toronto police say there is a publication ban on the identity of the purported kidnap victim, who tended marijuana plants for Vornicu. The man’s initials are S.T.

Police believe Floria told S.T. not to report his kidnapping and then conducted a phoney investigation that allowed the culprits to evade police. They also allege he learned of a separate kidnapping involving two other victims and did not promptly report it.

Floria was charged in 2007 with six total counts of obstructing justice, breach of trust, accessory after the fact to kidnapping and money laundering. In 2012, Floria was acquitted of all criminal charges and he vehemently maintains his innocence.

But his employer has commenced disciplinary proceedings against him, based on the same allegations that landed him in court, prompting fresh testimony about the world that Vornicu and S.T. inhabited.

At a disciplinary hearing last year, S.T. testified that Floria asked him if he thought two alleged figures in the Toronto drug trade might be involved in the abduction. Vornicu, along with the two men and a number of others, were accused of conspiring to export and traffic marijuana together in 2007.

Court documents reveal that charges against Vornicu were stayed at the request of the Crown. Vornicu was called as a Crown witness at Floria’s criminal trial.

And at Floria’s disciplinary hearing, S.T. testified that Vornicu was his boss at a Toronto marijuana grow operation in 2005, and provided a down payment on an apartment as thanks for his work maintaining plants. S.T. testified he had also started a grow operation in his own home when he was kidnapped.

S.T. said two people jumped him outside a gym on Nov. 16, 2005, and loaded him into a van. The kidnappers blindfolded S.T. with a hat and tape. He was held in two locations, which he believes were garages. S.T. said his captors tortured him with pliers, a baseball bat, a gun and other tools.

The kidnappers asked a battered S.T. who could pay a ransom. S.T. suggested Vornicu. The kidnappers phoned Vornicu multiple times and threatened him, according to S.T.

“He’s trying to play games,” S.T. said through an interpreter, paraphrasing a captor. “It’s OK, we’ll show him. We’ll go pick up his child from school and then he will see.”

The kidnappers eventually told S.T. that Vornicu had paid a ransom, and released him on Nov. 18. The kidnappers were never found, according to tribunal documents.

Vornicu was arrested shortly after the kidnapping, on Nov. 24, 2005. Vornicu had gone to his son’s school that day and became upset when he couldn’t find him, according to a police report released by the TPS. The school reported the incident to police and officers later visited Vornicu.

Vornicu “seemed confused,” according to the police report, and did not respond to the officers’ questions. “At one point the male pointed to the boys bed (sic), that he was under the sheets, and when the officers checked he was not there, the male uttered that he was dead.”

Vornicu also “charged” at one officer and was arrested for assaulting a peace officer, according to the report. Vornicu’s wife had actually taken their son to her sister’s home the day before, according to the report, and the child stayed home from school sick on Nov. 24. Vornicu “forgot what he was told” and became distressed.

Speaking through an interpreter at the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal last year, S.T. recalled meeting with a “very scared” and “very agitated” Vornicu shortly after he was released, who asked that he “write down everything that had happened.”

Vornicu also struck him with a gun, but later apologized, telling him “I had lost my mind.”

S.T.’s testimony changed and wavered under a gruelling, days-long cross-examination, but Vornicu’s involvement in the drug trade was uncontested by both sides.

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