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Alberta

ASIRT releases findings on shooting death of armed murder suspect

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From Alberta Serious Incident Response Team: RCMP acted reasonably in shooting fatality during arrest

On Jan. 7, 2017, ASIRT was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 27-year-old man during an attempted arrest by the RCMP that same day. 

During a planned entry into a Stoney Nakoda First Nation residence to locate the man and two others suspected of involvement in a recent homicide, a confrontation occurred that resulted in the man being shot by an RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) officer.

ASIRT interviewed police and civilian witnesses, including the individuals present in the home that day and the involved officers. As well, the crime scene was examined, and photographs, radio communications and all available video were seized. ASIRT’s investigation is complete.

Having reviewed the investigation, executive director Susan Hughson, QC, concluded there were no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe a police officer committed a criminal offence.

On Jan. 7, 2017, RCMP executed several arrest warrants at residences on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in search of three men, wanted for a murder that had occurred six days earlier. At the time, RCMP had information that the 27-year-old man had also been in possession of a firearm, which violated a court-ordered prohibition in effect until 2025. As such, the execution of the warrants was deemed to be high risk.

At approximately 4 p.m., ERT simultaneously sent teams to execute the warrants at two neighbouring homes, one being the home of the family of the 27-year-old man and his brother, also wanted in relation to the same homicide. The father of the men met the officers at the doorway to the residence. Officers located the brother inside on the first floor and arrested him without incident. As the officers proceeded further into the home, several other people were located and contained on the main level while others emerged from the basement. When asked whether anyone was still in the basement, the officers were told no.

A number of officers went down to clear the basement, announcing that they were police and that they had a warrant. As they moved along an interior wall towards a doorway in the basement, a man, later confirmed to have been the 27-year-old man, yelled at the officers to get out and leave him alone. A single shot was then fired from the opposite side of the wall, penetrating through drywall and narrowly missing the officers. The officers called out “shots fired”, returned to the main floor and, after throwing a tear gas canister into the basement, evacuated the residence.

At this point, officers were aware that they were dealing with an armed man and took up positions to contain the residence after everyone had been moved to safety. At this point, the RCMP would have had the benefit of time and resources.

One officer went towards the treeline on the west side of the residence to establish a rear sniper point. He positioned himself behind an old washing machine approximately 12 metres away from the house. While doing so, a gunshot was heard, believed to have come from the southwest corner of the basement near the basement window closest to the officer, and the officer reported hearing the sound of breaking glass.

Almost immediately, a woman climbed out of the window. As the officer yelled commands for her to walk towards him, the 27-year-old man emerged from the same basement window with a shotgun in his hands, carried at waist level and pointing in the direction of the officer and the young woman. The officer fired a single shot from his rifle, striking the 27-year-old man in the torso, causing him to collapse to the ground. Other ERT members moved in to secure the man and the shotgun, and to render emergency aid.

With the tear gas coming out of the basement window, RCMP moved the man and placed him on a jacket on the snow-covered ground to prevent hypothermia. The RCMP loaded the man into an RCMP vehicle and transported him to an ambulance waiting a short distance away, as the house and scene had not yet been cleared and confirmed safe by ERT officers. These officers re-entered the residence and found it empty.

The man was transported to a Calgary hospital where he was declared deceased. He sustained a single gunshot wound to the abdomen that injured internal organs and his spinal cord. More significantly, it cut through the main abdominal artery. This resulted in substantial hemorrhage and death. Toxicology was positive for methamphetamine.

The man’s gun, a 12-gauge tactical shotgun, was recovered loaded with three unfired shells. The pump action was in the forward firing position.

Section 25 of the Criminal Code states that a police officer is authorized to use as much force as is reasonably necessary in the execution of his or her duties. When necessary, an officer is entitled to resort to lethal force where there are, subjectively and objectively, grounds to believe that the person presents a risk of imminent bodily harm or death to the officer or another person. Lastly, an officer may use lethal force to prevent flight in limited circumstances.

The evidence is unequivocal that the 27-year-old man called out and fired upon the officers as they descended the stairs to clear the basement. The only other person in the basement was the unarmed woman who had exited the residence just ahead of the man. The woman confirmed that, although she did not see the events leading up to the officer-involved shooting, she immediately turned after the gunshot and saw officers approach the man and kick the shotgun away from the man as he laid on the ground.

Both objectively and subjectively, the man presented a risk of imminent grievous bodily harm or death to the officer, and potentially to the woman who would have been in the line of fire. The officer was lawfully placed and acting in the lawful execution of his duty. In the circumstances, the force used was both reasonable and authorized under the Criminal Code. There being no grounds to believe that an offence was committed by a police officer, no charges will be laid.

ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person.

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Alberta

Retired Oil Field Worker sparks national conversation with his pitch for a new route to move Alberta Oil

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer / editorialist (and former oil field worker) Garfield Marks. 

We have not been able to run our bitumen through a pipeline to a refinery in New Brunswick. There has been resistance in parts of Ontario and in Quebec. What if we came up with another plan. Would we consider it? There will be road blocks, but not insurmountable, would we consider it?
Yes how about Thunder Bay?
Thunder Bay, Ontario, the largest Canadian port of the St. Lawrence Seaway located on the west end of Lake Superior, 1850 kms. from Hardisty, Alberta. A forgotten jewel.
So what, you may ask. 
They used to ship grain from Thunder Bay in huge tankers to ports all over the world. Why not oil?
The Saint Lawrence Seaway ships fuel, gasoline and diesel tankers, to this day.
We could run oil tankers to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, bypassing the controversial pipeline running through eastern Ontario and Quebec.
The pipeline, if that was the transport model chosen, would only need to run through parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Like, previously stated the pipeline would only be 1850 kms. long. 
The other great thing about Thunder Bay is the abundance of rail lines. Transportation for such things as grain and forestry products from western Canada. If you can’t run pipeline from Hardisty, through to Thunder Bay, use the railroad.
Why Hardisty, you may ask.
Hardisty, according to Wikipedia,  is mainly known as a pivotal petroleum industry hub where petroleum products such as Western Canada Select blended crude oil and Hardisty heavy oil are produced, stored and traded.
The Town of Hardisty owes its very existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. About 1904 the surveyors began to survey the railroad from the east and decided to locate a divisional point at Hardisty because of the good water supply from the river. 
Hardisty, Alberta has the railroad and has the product, the storage capacity, and the former Alberta government planned on investing $3.7 billion in rail cars for hauling oil while Thunder Bay has the railroad and an under utilised port at the head of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Economics are there along with opportunity, employment would be created and the east coast could end its’ dependency on imported oil. 
Do we have the vision or willingness to consider another option. I am just asking for all avenues to be considered.
In my interviews in Ontario there is a willingness to discuss this idea. 
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 

We could consider it, could we not?
CBC NEWS did a story about this idea on March 7 2019;
A retired oil field worker in Alberta has “floated” a novel solution to Alberta’s oil transportation woes: pipe the bitumen to Thunder Bay, Ont., then ship it up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Irving oil refinery in New Brunswick.
Marks’ proposal might be more than a pipe dream, according to the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea’
“I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea,” Warren Mabee said. “I think that there’s some flaws to it … but this is an idea that could work in certain circumstances and at certain times of year. … It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The chief executive officer of the Port of Thunder Bay said shipping oil from the port “could easily be done.” 
“We ship refined gasoline and diesel up from Sarnia. We’ve done that for many many years,” Tim Heney told CBC. “So it’s not something that’s that far-fetched.”
There are, however, plenty of potential drawbacks to shipping crude through the Seaway, Mabee explained, not least of which is the fact that it isn’t open year-round.

The need to store oil or redirect it during the winter months could be costly, he said.
Potential roadblocks
Another potential pitfall is capacity, he added; there may not be enough of the right-sized tankers available to carry the oil through the Seaway. 
Finally, he said, the journey by sea from Lake Superior to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick is a long one, so it might make more sense to transport the product to a closer facility such as the one in Sarnia, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 
So far, no producer has come forward seeking to ship crude through Thunder Bay, he said. 

Asked about the possible environmental risks of shipping oil on Lake Superior, both Hodgson and Heney said shipping by tanker is relatively safe; Hodgson noted that any tankers carrying the product would have to be double-hulled, and crews are heavily vetted. 
Time to rethink pipelines?
There hasn’t been a spill in the Seaway system for more than 20 years he said. 
Nonetheless, Mabee said, the potential for an oil spill on the Great Lakes could be a huge issue. 
“The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes have a lot of people living in close proximity, a lot of people who rely on it for drinking water,” he said. “There’s a delicate ecosystem there. I think a lot of people would push back against this proposal simply from that perspective.”
In fact, one of the reasons Mabee appreciates Marks’ proposal, he said, is because it invites people to weigh the pros and cons of different methods of transporting oil. 
“If we’re not going to build pipelines, but we’re going to continue to use oil, it means that people are going to be looking at some of these alternative transport options,” he said.

“And if we don’t want oil on those alternative transport options, we need to give the pipelines another thought.

Time to consider all options, I dare say.

​Garfield Marks​

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Alberta

Joint Police Operation seizes 2 million in drugs and cash, bringing down a BC-Alberta drug “pipeline”

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From ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team) : Several Albertans arrested

Project Elder Disrupts B.C.-Alberta Drug Pipeline

 A two-year investigation by ALERT has cut off a drug pipeline between British Columbia and Alberta. More than $2 million in drugs and cash was seized and a dozen suspects have been arrested.

Project Elder was an ALERT Edmonton investigation that probed interprovincial, wholesale drug distribution. ALERT alleges that a high volume of drugs were being shipped to Alberta involving a complex scheme that included vehicles equipped with hidden compartments.

ALERT alleges the drugs were being shipped to Edmonton and Calgary with further distribution points across the province.

“Organized crime groups don’t respect borders, which is why we need agencies like ALERT that work with law enforcement partners in other jurisdictions to investigate, disrupt and dismantle serious criminal activity such as organized crime and illegal drug trafficking. I want to thank investigators from ALERT and the other organizations involved in Project Elder for their outstanding and tireless work on this long and complex operation that maintains Albertans’ confidence in our law enforcement agencies’ abilities to ensure they are safe, secure and protected in their communities,” said Hon. Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Project Elder concluded on June 5, 2019, with several arrests taking place. Additional arrests and search warrants were staggered over the course of the investigation and took place in Edmonton, Calgary, Innisfail, and Vancouver.

Two homes, two businesses and multiple vehicles were searched. The drugs alone have an estimated street value of $1.5 million. Items seized include:

  • 9.3 kilograms of cocaine;
  • 17.2 kilograms of a cocaine buffing agent;
  • 6.0 kilograms of methamphetamine;
  • 684 grams of fentanyl powder;
  • $514,335 cash;
  • a handgun with suppressor and expanded magazine; and
  • 5 vehicles with hidden compartments.

ALERT used a number of sophisticated techniques and specialized resources to dismantle the group. Project Elder relied heavily on the assistance of: Edmonton Police Service; CFSEU-BC; North Vancouver RCMP; RCMP E-Division; Innisfail RCMP; RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime; and Alberta Sheriffs surveillance team.

Project Elder dates back to March 2017 when investigators targeted an Edmonton-based drug trafficking group. ALERT was able to expand the scope of that initial investigation and identified the group’s suspected B.C.-based supplier.

ALERT alleges that Neil Kravets coordinated the supply of drugs from B.C. and oversaw the group’s activities. The 28-year-old man from North Vancouver has subsequently been charged with instructing a criminal organization, among a host of other charges.

Eleven suspects with Kravets’s alleged drug network were arrested, many of whom were charged with participation in a criminal organization and conspiracy to traffic cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

A total of 59 charges have been laid against:

  • Neil Kravets, 28, from North Vancouver;
  • Brandon Worsley, 29, from Edmonton;
  • Joseph Nicholson, 29, from Airdrie;
  • Brandon Brown, 22, from Edmonton;
  • Richard Sansoucy, 56, from Edmonton;
  • Gregory Ewald, 44, from Edmonton;
  • Fayiz Moghrabi, 28, from Vancouver;
  • Randolph Chalifoux, 37, from Edmonton;
  • Suk Han, 35, from Vancouver;
  • Andy Estrada, 29, from Edmonton;
  • Daniel Estrada Sr., 58, from Edmonton; and
  • Moshe Banin, 31, from Edmonton;

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. Members of Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, and RCMP work in ALERT.

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