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Alberta

A regional comparison of ALERT crime stats for 2019 – Arrests, Charges, Guns, Drugs off the streets

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ALERT 2019 Red Deer

From the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

Transition, Triumph for ALERT in 2019

While changes were afoot, including a new CEO, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams still managed to achieve one of its most successful years ever in 2019.

Over the calendar year, ALERT teams across the province laid 1,402 criminal charges against 241 suspects; took 92 firearms out of the hands of gang members and drug dealers; seized more than $4 million in proceeds of crime; and removed nearly $13 million worth of cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine from the streets of Alberta communities.

“Since being appointed chief executive officer in August 2019, I’ve been very impressed with ALERT’s operations and the results the organization is able to achieve,” said ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta. “It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing landscape, but our front-line investigators and support staff behind the scenes do exceptional work to keep up and deliver the results Albertans expect.”

ALERT is mandated to address organized and serious crime across Alberta, with regional offices located in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer. A breakdown of statistics by region for the 2019 calendar year is available on ALERT’s website and YouTube channel.

The biggest highlight of the year for ALERT was Project Coyote, a joint investigation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that resulted in record amounts of cocaine and fentanyl pills seized. All told, over the course of two years, Project Coyote resulted in the seizure of $15 million worth of drugs, including 81.5 kilograms of cocaine in Houston, Texas, and 250,000 fentanyl pills in a Calgary apartment.

“Project Coyote was a lengthy, complex investigation, and I applaud our team in Calgary for their ongoing commitment to the investigation,” Lakusta said. “It’s a significant bust, and a great example of the efforts taken by our teams to fight organized crime.”

Some of ALERT’s other successes in 2019 include: outlaw bikers arrested for drug trafficking in Red Deer; a firearms straw purchaser foiled in Grande Prairie; a B.C.-Edmonton drug pipeline cut off; a record meth seizure in Medicine Hat; an arrest made in Lethbridge in a series of vehicle thefts; and two children being rescued as result of a child exploitation investigation.

A compilation of highlights from 2019 is available on ALERT’s website.

With new funding foreshadowed in the recent provincial budget and ALERT’s successes from 2019 to build upon, Lakusta is looking forward to expanding on the organization’s important work in 2020.

“We are excited to enhance opportunities to make communities across Alberta safer,” Lakusta said. “By working closely with other law enforcement agencies and community partners, we will continue to work toward our goals of disrupting and dismantling organized crime.”

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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Alberta

Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

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EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions, defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 Monday to capture the NHL’s top trophy in front of empty seats, sprawling tarps, and no fans at Rogers Place.

Brayden Point and Blake Coleman scored the goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots for his first career playoff shutout.

The Lightning players exploded off the bench as the seconds ticked to zero, swarming Vasilevskiy, their whoops and hollers echoing around the arena.

The Lightning are the champions of the so-called bubbled NHL playoffs, with players kept in isolation for the past two months. Games were played without fans in attendance in hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Lightning won the best-of-seven series 4-2 for the second championship in the 28-year-history of the franchise. The first cup came in 2004.

Tampa defenceman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Hedman scored 10 goals and added 12 assists during the Lightning’s run.

Vasilevskiy played all 25 post-season games for Tampa, including nine overtime affairs. One of those, against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, was a five-overtime marathon. His record was 18-7.

Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 29-22, and outshot them in every game of the series.

Point scored on the power play midway through the first period, sailing through the slot untouched and putting his own rebound past Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin.

Coleman made it 2-0 by capitalizing on a turnover midway through the second frame, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Cedric Paquette.

Nikita Kucherov assisted on Point’s goal and was the NHL’s top scorer in the playoffs with seven goals and 34 points. Point was second at 14 goals and 33 points.

Khudobin finishes the playoffs with a 14-10 record.

The Lightning finished fourth in the regular season (43-21-6) when play was suspended around the 70-game mark on March 12 due to the COVID pandemic.

Tampa was a model of consistency in the return-to-play tournament that began in early August.

The Lightning went 18-7, never lost two games in a row, and shut down the top three defensive teams in the league (Boston, Dallas, and Columbus).

The Bolts were overtime warriors, going 7-2 in extra-session games. They played 221:14 total in overtime, more than any team in playoff history.

It’s the first Stanley Cup for every Lightning player except Pat Maroon. The burly, bearded veteran winger won it all last season with the St. Louis Blues.

It’s also the first Cup for head coach Jon Cooper, in his seventh full season behind the bench for Tampa.

He defeated Dallas interim head coach Rick Bowness. Bowness had been hired by Cooper as a mentor in 2013 and served the next five years with the Lightning as his assistant.

The Bolts had been knocking on the Cup door in recent years, making the final four in four of the last six seasons. In 2015 they lost to Chicago 4-2 in the final.

Nine members of the current Tampa roster were on that 2015 team: Kucherov, captain Steven Stamkos, Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Vasilevskiy, Braydon Coburn, Paquette, and Tyler Johnson.

The Stars franchise is now 1-4 in the Stanley Cup final, dating back to its Minnesota North Star roots. The lone championship came in 1999.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press







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Alberta

Calgary man pleads guilty in crash that killed woman out on a work break

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CALGARY — A Calgary man who wasn’t supposed to drive because of a brain tumour has pleaded guilty in a crash that killed a mother of three who was out for a walk while on a break from work.

Anjna Sharma was killed in May 2017 when James Beagrie’s truck collided with a car near a mall in the city’s northeast after he lost consciousness.

Court heard the truck then mounted the curb and hit Sharma, who was dragged a short distance.

Beagrie, who is 47, was charged with criminal negligence causing death.

But he pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.

An agreed statement of facts said Beagrie was told by his family doctor three weeks before the crash that he shouldn’t be driving because he had a brain tumour and needed to see a neurologist.

“At least there is admission on his part to some extent,” Suneet Sharma, who was married to Anjna for 24 years, said outside Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.

“When (your) life partner leaves, it’s not that easy. Also my kids are having difficulties adjusting to the life that they are put into.”

The youngest of the couple’s three children, Archisha Sharma, 15, said the siblings miss their mother terribly.

“I cry every day just looking at her photo as she’s smiling, and I just think why can’t I see that,” said the 15-year-old. “I miss her warmth. I need my mom.”

The Crown agreed that the lesser charge “more accurately reflected what occurred in this matter,” defence lawyer Allan Fay said outside court.

The agreed statement of facts said Beagrie had been informed in January 2013 that he had a benign brain tumour and had to see a neurosurgeon annually.

On Feb. 17, 2017, he was involved in a single-vehicle crash in Drumheller, Alta., after blacking out behind the wheel. Beagrie underwent a CT scan, which showed the tumour had grown.

That May, Beagrie received a letter from Alberta Transportation advising him that his licence would be suspended in June.

“He should have known that he’s putting other people’s lives at risk. It’s painful, frustrating …the way that people take it for granted other people’s lives,” said Suneet Sharma.

Beagrie is currently out on bail. A date for a sentencing hearing has yet to be set. (CTV Calgary)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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