Watch above: Project Forseti took a large quantity of drugs off Saskatoon streets. As Saskatoon police Det. Insp. Jerome Engele and RCMP Staff Sgt. Donovan explain to Kevin Stanfield, more violent crimes are being committed in Saskatoon due to mainly to the illegal drug trade.
SASKATOON – There were two more shootings in Saskatoon this week. And two weeks ago police seized roughly two hundred guns in a major bust called Project Forseti.
Police say guns are becoming more common in the city’s drug trade.
“What we’re seeing in the city is a lot of violent crime, a lot of weapons involved,” Det. Insp. Jerome Engele with the Saskatoon Police Service told Global News.
“A lot of it has to do with our gang issues, mostly to do with drugs, and as the city grows we have various people coming into the city to make a lot of money in a hurry.”
Within the last few days police have also announced several more arrests as Project Forseti continues.
“As we conclude the investigative portions of the file we’ll continue to arrest people,” said Engele.
On Jan. 14, police raided 18 locations, including the Hells Angels Clubhouse in Saskatoon. They seized guns, cash and large quantities of drugs, including fake oxycontin pills that have been linked to the deaths of three people in Saskatoon.
And last week more of the potentially deadly pills were seized. Police say they are not surprised.
“Unfortunately the motive comes down to money and power and controlling the drug trade,” said Staff Sgt. Donovan Fisher with the RCMP’s Integrated Organized Crime Unit.
“People who are involved in this, their sole goal is to corner the market and get as much money as possible from you before you come to an unfortunate fate, or you’re out of money or homeless. It’s a very callous system.”
And Engele added even though many people know the drugs are dangerous, they continue to take them.
“Addictions have a lot to do with it, people, as much as they’d like to be careful, their addiction gets the better of them and they have to feed that addiction.”
He added a lot of the violence comes in when gangs clash over territory.
“People think they own a portion of the streets,” said Engele. “If you’re going to sell in their territory you are encompassing on their profits, and as a result they try to hold their zones. Weapons, not only guns but knives are the weapons being used.”
However, both officers believe Project Forseti put a major dent in the drug trade not only in Saskatoon, but in the province. And they say major operations like this often produce other leads.
“Often in these things we find that after a big takedown like this we have more people coming forward, more information coming in,” said Fisher.
“There’s a confidence that the police are going to do something with the information provided, so often there’s a snowball effect from these types of takedowns.”