Red Deer RCMP say they have made one of the largest drug busts in the detachment’s history; seizing money, guns and a wide variety of drugs including cocaine, meth, fentanyl and heroin.
Five people have been arrested in total, three of whom were the target of the central Alberta investigation.
Red Deer RCMP began their investigation into a drug trafficking ring in central Alberta in late June 2018. Mounties said that investigation quickly led to ties with drug trafficking activity in Airdrie and Calgary.
Red Deer RCMP worked with their counterparts in Airdrie and Calgary, along with the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and the Calgary Police Service, to carry out a series of coordinated search warrants at four homes in Red Deer, Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County on Aug. 8, 2018. One vehicle was also seized and searched.
As a result of the five searches in August, the following things were seized by police:
- 1.67 kg cocaine
- 1.26 kg fentanyl
- 1.44 kg ketamine
- 2.61 kg methamphetamine
- 3.5 kg cannabis
- 261 g psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
- 22 g heroin
- Six litres of hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
- More than 200 other tablets of various controlled substances (fentanyl, oxycodone, diazepam)
- Nine firearms and ammunition
- More than $61,000 in Canadian currency
“This is one the most significant drug seizures we’ve seen,” Red Deer RCMP insp. Dean LaGrange said.
“There are consequences to trafficking drugs in this province. The illegal drug seizure is evidence that traffickers can and will be caught.”
As a result of the August raids, three people were arrested and 50 charges were laid.
Steve Tuan Minh Do, 42, of Calgary is facing 40 charges: 20 counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, 10 counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm and 10 counts of possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition.
Do was released and is set to appear in Calgary Provincial Court on April 3.
Beau Charles Burles, 32, of Edmonton was charged with four counts of possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Hayley Van Dellen, 32, of Edmonton was charged with four counts of possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, as well as charges for wrongly possessing both a prohibited weapon and a firearm.
Burles and Van Dellen were both released and were set to appearing in Red Deer Provincial Court on Thursday.
Red Deer RCMP Sgt. Robert Schultz said the August bust allowed Calgary police to carry out their own trafficking investigation.
On Sept. 13, 2018, police conducted a search warrant in south Calgary and arrested two men.
“The arrest and search led to seizures of approximately $41,000 in cash, 700 fentanyl pills, 750 grams of cocaine, 750 grams of MDMA, five pounds of phenacetin — that’s what’s commonly known as a ‘super buff,’ or what they cut some of the drugs with,” Schultz said.
Phenacetin, a pain killer, is regulated under the Food and Drugs Act due to its potential cancer-causing properties. Police say it’s used as a cutting agent for cocaine.
Police have previously said due to the similar physical properties, phenacetin is used to make cocaine more profitable to organized criminals.
Schultz said Calgary police also seized multiple pounds of marijuana and 550 grams of cannabis concentrate, or what’s commonly known as “shatter.”
Calgary residents Andy Tran and Tyler Mercer were arrested and charged in that bust.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said her community is safer because of the drugs being taken off the streets.
“I think it’s certainly symptomatic of a larger issue in Alberta,” Veer said.
“The message today is: not only this supplier will not in a position to be able to distribute throughout Alberta, but certainly it sends a message to other suppliers that we take enforcement very seriously.”
According to ALERT, the wholesale price of a kilogram of cocaine varies depending on where in the province it is being trafficked.
In Calgary, a kilo of cocaine goes for about $50,000, but ALERT has said further north in Fort McMurray that same amount would cost dealers $70,000.
However, because of variables such as different degrees of purity, ALERT values cocaine at $100/gram and therefore $100,000/kilogram.