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Canada Search warrant sheds light on murder of alleged drug dealer seen in photo with Rob Ford

Hanad Mohamed at the Old City Hall Toronto courthouse where he was charged with first-degree murder.

Alex Tavshunsky illustration

An Ontario Superior Court justice has unsealed documents that shed new light on the murder of an alleged drug dealer who appeared in a photo with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Madam Justice Anne Malloy granted an application from The Globe and Mail and several other media companies to publicly disclose details of a search warrant related to the March 28 murder of 21-year-old Anthony Smith.

Those documents include redacted affidavits from two police investigators working on the case, a search warrant application and an itemized list of articles seized from the Fort McMurray, Alta., apartment where one of the alleged murderers had been staying.

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RCMP arrested 23-year-old Hanad Mohamed at his sister's Fort McMurray home on May 24 and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Mr. Smith, one of three young men who appeared in a photo with Mr. Ford that emerged with reports from the Toronto Star and Gawker.com about an alleged video showing the mayor smoking what looks like crack cocaine.

The mayor has labelled the reports "ridiculous" and stated that no such video exists.

While none of the newly released documents mention a video, they show that Toronto Police sought a single black iPhone belonging to Mr. Mohamed that they believed would tie him to the murder.

The list of items seized from Mr. Mohamed shows that police found and confiscated three cellphones in addition to the one they were looking for: a black Samsung, a black BlackBerry, a white iPhone with a broken screen.

Police also seized a removable micro SD card used for storing large files on cellphones and 1.725 grams of marijuana.

"We do not know what's on those cellphones and we will not know, if ever, until trial," said lawyer Peter Jacobsen, who argued on behalf of the media companies.

Investigators zeroed in on Mr. Mohamed after receiving an anonymous phone tip on April 4, according to one of the affidavits, written by Toronto Detective-Constable Ryan McIntyre.

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Following the tip, Det. Constable McIntyre ordered Mr. Mohamed's phone records from March 27 to April 8, and found they placed him near the scene of the murder shortly before it occurred. As well, they showed Mr. Mohamed contacted 23-year-old Nisar Hashimi, whom police arrested in April for the same murder, 23 times immediately before the shooting.

Mr. Hashimi has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The records further showed that Mr. Mohamed flew to Fort McMurray in the days after the murder before returning to Toronto on or around May 10. Police issued a warrant against him for first-degree murder soon after, but discovered he had returned to Alberta on May 14, according to the affidavit.

Wood Buffalo RCMP in Fort McMurray led the arrest. Mr. Mohamed was wearing "sweat pants, a T-shirt and shoes" when he was detained, "but did not have a cellphone," according to RCMP Constable Marc Loov's affidavit.

Police applied for the search warrant five days after the arrest, claiming the iPhone was necessary to tie Mr. Mohamed to Mr. Hashimi.

The affidavit also directly links some of the people involved in the Smith murder investigation with those involved in Project Traveller, a year-long police operation targeting the Dixon City Bloods, a violent street gang based along Dixon Road in North Etobicoke, that culminated in a massive police raid last month.

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"Project Traveller is an ongoing Part VI wiretap investigation that involves several of the involved persons in this homicide investigation," Det. Constable McIntyre's affidavit states, followed by several redacted lines and then, "HASHIMI is believed to be the person who shot and killed SMITH."

After the raids, two of the three men who appeared in the infamous photo with Mr. Ford – Mohammad Khattak, who was severely injured in the Smith shooting, and Monir Kasim – were named by police as members of the gang and charged with trafficking drugs.

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