Three Cornwall homes searched, one arrest in drug overdose death investigation

In this provided photo, some of the fentanyl seized by the SD&G Community Street Crime Unit on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. An Ottawa man is facing several charges as the result of Project Ballad that looked into the drug supply behind a local overdose death in October. (SD&G OPP via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A local drug overdose death has led to drug related charges for an Ottawa man.

SD&G OPP say they started their investigation, called Project Ballad, after the death in October.

While there’s some sort of link between the death and the accused, police did not elaborate in their initial news release and the local media relations officer told Cornwall Newswatch he wasn’t given that information.

“That was not even shared with me at all how it was all connected,” Const. Serge Duguay said. “I’m presuming…when we first got the sudden death in October…we probably got more information on where the drug was purchased by the deceased and that led to the Project (Ballad) being initiated,” Duguay said.

The local OPP detachment was not the lead agency on the case as it was a joint operation involving the SD&G Community Street Crime Unit (CSCU), the OPP Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU), the OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Cornwall Police Service Street Crime Unit.

Police searched three Cornwall homes on Wednesday (Nov. 16), seizing what they believe is fentanyl and oxycodone pills.

Joseph Kiirya, 19, of Ottawa is charged with two counts of drug trafficking, one count of failing to comply with a release order, possession of a prohibited device and possession of stolen property.

Duguay says a butterfly knife and a pellet gun were seized during the operation.

As of Thursday afternoon, Kiirya was in jail awaiting a bail hearing in a Cornwall court.

Asked if Project Ballad is complete, Duguay told CNW it wasn’t clear whether the operation was closed and whether other arrests were pending.

Local health officials recently sounded the alarm over overdose related deaths. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says three deaths a month was the average in the five eastern counties and the City of Cornwall in 2021. There were 11 suspected drug overdose deaths in July and August of this year alone.