Hidden compartment in Jeep hides $125K and cocaine: Edmonton police

Click to play video: 'Significance of amount of cocaine seized by EPS'
Significance of amount of cocaine seized by EPS
WATCH ABOVE: Insp. Jonathan Coughlan explains how this quantity of cocaine and equipment might be used – Aug 11, 2017

Three men have been charged with trafficking after thousands of dollars and drugs were seized during searches in north Edmonton.

Police said two vehicles were searched and seized in a targeted traffic stop in southwest Edmonton. Then, a home near 103 Street and 161 Avenue was searched on July 20.

“Acting on informant information a number of weeks ago, our STAT (Specialized Traffic Apprehension Team) team concluded an investigation where they arrested individuals in two vehicles, a Jeep Liberty and Range Rover,” Insp. Jonathan Coughlan said.

The Jeep Liberty “contained a sophisticated aftermarket hidden compartment in its trunk in which members located $125,000 CAD and 2.9 kilograms of pressed soft cocaine,” police said.

Watch below: Thousands of dollars of drugs and cash are off the streets after a bust by Edmonton police. Officers seized nearly four kilograms of cocaine, most of it hidden inside a compartment of a Jeep. Kim Smith has the details.

Click to play video: 'Hidden compartment in Jeep hides $125K & cocaine: Edmonton police'
Hidden compartment in Jeep hides $125K & cocaine: Edmonton police

Officers found one kilogram of cocaine in the second vehicle, a Range Rover, EPS said in a news release Friday.

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“Drug traffickers — generally speaking at the higher levels, where the financial investment of modifying a vehicle is worth it to conceal a high level of product — they will bring vehicles into specific auto body places and they will have the negatives spaces within their vehicles converted to an accessible concealed location,” Coughlan said.

“The idea is to thwart police efforts, maybe using the powers of observation when lawfully placed, to execute a search of that vehicle… These compartments allow them concealment and security.”

Inside the home, police found drugs, cash and equipment, including $54,000 CAD, over 1,300 grams of cocaine, nearly 460 grams of meth, nearly 2,300 pills (which police suspect could be oxycodone) and packing materials.

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Coughlan said the bust was significant.

“This is probably above anybody’s expectation of what STAT was going to produce in a single investigation. It’s pretty amazing.”

“Generally speaking, when you purchase cocaine at that high-volume level, you’re purchasing a kilo,” Coughlan said. “[It] is pressed cocaine… They can break it down into smaller amounts and then they can do one of two things: they can dilute it to increase volume and increase profit [or] they can then convert it to another form of cocaine — crack cocaine.”
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Click to play video: 'Insp. Jonathan Coughlan says EPS bust sends message'
Insp. Jonathan Coughlan says EPS bust sends message

Coughlan also said the seizure, arrests and charges send a message.

“It’s highly important. Cocaine traffickers [at the high level], in my opinion, represent to lower-level drug traffickers kind of the ideal, what they’re maybe trying to aspire to, and showing that these people are not untouchable and that that lifestyle comes with consequences is very important to us.”

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“Good drug investigations don’t really ever end because there’s a lot of tentacles and everybody in that community is connected in some way,” Coughlan said. “Obviously we hope this investigation – we expect – it will lead to other investigations for sure.”

Rabeeh Abdul-Khalek, 27, was charged with trafficking a controlled substance, four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Derek Babysh, 29, was charged with trafficking a controlled substance.

Yu Tang, 30, was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Coughlan said two of the three men charged have a criminal history.

He said as the investigation develops, more charges could be laid.

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