CALGARY – Police have charged four people in connection to a violent robbery and kidnapping crime ring.
Each robbery took place at grocery stores in Calgary and Airdrie over a three month period last fall.
Family Foods, Real Canadian Wholesale Club in southeast Calgary, Basha Foods, No Frills -The Box, Rob’s No Frills Airdrie, and Blair’s – No Frills were all targeted.
Police say the robberies were carefully planned in order to obtain large amounts of cash.
In each of the holdups, two to four people, wearing disguises and armed with guns and knives, would enter the store at closing time.
Police say they robbed employees of their purses and wallets and would either obtain the combination for the safe or force the employees to open it themselves.
At Rob’s No Frills in Airdrie, the culprits allegedly kidnapped the store manager, who was later released unharmed.
Police called the five month investigation “Operation Volcom”.
Seven men face a total 90 charges including conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery, attempted kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons.
Polcie believe 46 year old Hasson Wilson was the mastermind behind the crimes. They say he recruited several individuals who needed money to feed their addiction problems.
Staff Sergeant, Mark Rahn says, “I don’t know how he gathered all these individuals, but over the course of the lengthy investigation we obersved him involved with several different groups of different individuals. It appeared as though he was grooming them to commit crimes.”
Police believe the robbers were planning to target another ten businesses, including Canyon Meadows Cinema and the Real Canadian Wholesale Club in Calgary’s northeast.