EDMONTON – A three-month police investigation culminated Wednesday in a police raid on a Strathearn neighbourhood pub, and the arrest of its two owners.
Police began looking into Strathearn Pub & Restaurant, a family-owned pub located near 95 Ave. and 87 St., after allegations of drug trafficking surfaced in late 2013. After executing a search warrant at the business, investigators seized cocaine and marijuana.
Bassam Monsef, 61, has been charged with: three counts of trafficking cocaine, two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and four counts of possession of a controlled substance and living off the proceeds of crimes.
Antoine Khalil Mounsef, 54, has been charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance.
Many of those who live and own businesses in the community aren’t surprised by the situation.
“I’ve seen, lots of times, police coming in…so it’s not the first time,” said Gabriel Nader, of Gabriel Hair Design at the opposite end of the strip mall that houses the pub.
Kerry Sylvester, who owns a flower shop just a few steps away from the pub, says it’s been the source of many problems for her business.
“I’ve had puke off my window a number of times we’ve had to wash off, they use the corner of my store as the bathroom…It’s not a great place to have a bar. And if it shut down, I’m pretty sure most of the neighbourhood would be (celebrating) the fact that it’s done.”
“I would say it was common wisdom in Strathearn that there were drugs there,” said the president of Strathearn Community League, Jenny McAlister. “And if you were interested that was the place to go.”
“I think ideally we would like to have a neighbourhood pub that was a place where neighbours could go and meet and hang out,” she added. “I’m not sure Strathearn Pub was doing that.”
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is in the process of suspending the pub’s liquor licence indefinitely.
The owners will be able to request a hearing with the AGLC board, which can then either decide to cancel the licence, reinstate it, or reinstate it with conditions.
If the city chooses not to suspend the pub’s business licence, it will be able to remain open and serve food.
With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News