The RCMP has charged Yaroslav Pastukhov in connection with an international drug-trafficking scheme that sent a young Toronto musician to jail in Australia
A former Vice Media editor has been arrested in connection with a drug-trafficking scheme that landed a young Toronto musician behind bars in Australia.
On Monday, February 4, the RCMP said in a statement that it arrested 28-year-old Yaroslav Pastukhov on January 31, as well as 30-year-old Ali Taki Lalji, following an investigation aided by Australian Federal Police.
Both men are charged with conspiring to import cocaine to Australia.
The arrests come two years after The National Post published a lengthy investigation into Pastukhov (better known as Slava Pastuk or Slava P) that alleged he pressured four Canadians and an American into acting as drug mules for an international smuggling ring while working at the Toronto office of Vice as the Canadian editor of the company’s music site Noisey.
Australian authorities apprehended all five at Sydney International Airport in 2015 and, the RCMP says, found nearly 40 kilograms of cocaine on the group.
According to the statement, Pastukhov had been residing in Montreal under an alias.
Pastukhov was scheduled to appear in court on Monday, February 4, at Old City Hall in Toronto.
Lalji is also in custody and is scheduled for a bail hearing on February 6 at the same court house.
One of those arrested in Australia was Pastukhov’s former roommate, Toronto DJ and electronic musician Jordan Mykel Gardner (who was part of the duo Èbony).
In October 2017, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a New South Wales District Court in Sydney sentenced Gardner, then aged 27, to seven and a half months in jail with a non-parole period of four years and four months for importing commercial quantities of cocaine. He will be eligible for parole in April 2020.
New York model Nathaniel Carty, 23, received three years and four months music promoter Robert Wang, 25, received a minimum of four years and events-management worker Kutiba Senusi, 24, also received seven years and six months.
“Based on the agreed facts, Judge Dina Yehia found that drug ring figures including Vice journalist Slava Pastuk had heavied and cajoled the mules into carrying the drugs and most had accepted the task under duress,” the newspaper reported.
The fifth member of the group, Porscha Wade, 19, was sentenced to at least three years last June.
After the National Post story broke, Gardner’s friends in the Toronto music scene started a petition in hopes the court would show leniency during sentencing.