From ALERT – Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team
Project Evolve Dismantles Drug Trafficking Network
Eleven people have been arrested for their alleged role in a drug trafficking network, which operated in the Edmonton area and extended into the Bowden Institution.
Project Evolve was a lengthy and multi-faceted investigation led by ALERT’s Edmonton’s organized crime team, with the assistance of Correctional Service Canada, St. Albert RCMP, Morinville RCMP, Innisfail RCMP, Edmonton Police Service, and Winnipeg Police Service.
“I want to sincerely thank law enforcement for their incredible job in disrupting a significant drug trafficking network within Alberta’s correctional system,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “ALERT has done a remarkable job partnering with federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement to remove deadly drugs like fentanyl from our prisons. This kind of organized criminal activity has no place in the correctional system.”
A total of 60 criminal charges have been laid against 11 suspects allegedly involved in trafficking drugs in the Edmonton area. ALERT alleges the network conspired to smuggle drugs into the prison system and had established connections to Bowden Institution.
Project Evolve resulted in the seizure of drugs and cash worth an estimated $300,000. Search warrants were executed at homes in St. Albert and Edmonton, with the following evidence being seized:
- 35 grams of fentanyl;
- 88 grams of methamphetamine;
- 620 grams of cocaine;
- 1,341 grams of a cocaine buffing agent;
- 1,745 grams of cannabis;
- a handgun with its serial number removed; and
- $206,000 cash.
“This was a very well-organized, well-coordinated group. Their drug activities jeopardized community safety and hurt communities big and small,” said Staff Sgt. Blayne Eliuk, ALERT Edmonton. “And by introducing drugs into the prison system, this substantially put the health and safety of not only inmates, but also corrections staff and officers, at risk.”
“Organized crime groups who traffic in illicit drugs destroy lives, homes and communities. Drugs and drug addiction contribute to spinoff crimes such as theft and break-and-enters, which result in citizens feeling less safe. Investigations such as this are a positive step towards reducing crime in St. Albert and keeping the community safe,” added Const. M-J Burroughs, St. Albert RCMP.
“I’d like to thank ALERT and my team at Bowden Institution for their combined efforts on Project Evolve. Partnerships such as this one between ALERT and Correctional Service Canada demonstrate intergovernmental departments working together to keep Canadians safe,” said Lawrence Hartigan, Warden of Bowden Institution.
Project Evolve concluded on December 17, 2020, with several arrests:
- David Klassen, a 31-year-old man, currently incarcerated;
- Nicolas Moores, a 29-year-old man from Edmonton;
- Garreth Curry-McCallum, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;
- Jesse Riedlhuber, a 23-year-old man from Morinville;
- Brendan Baer, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;
- Tyler Kemps, a 25-year-old man from Edmonton;
- Nolan Arndt, a 24-year-old man from St. Albert;
- Tyler Willimont, a 24-year-old man from Edmonton;
- Jessa Brianne Ivicak, a 23-year-old woman from Edmonton;
- Kolby Gordon, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert; and
- Chayce Anthony Krause, a 26-year-old man, currently incarcerated.
Both Klassen and Krause were incarcerated at Bowden Institution during the course of the investigation. Moores is currently serving a federal sentence under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service Canada as the result of a conviction from a previous and unrelated ALERT investigation.
A full list of charges is available for download here.
Project Evolve began in June 2019.
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.
B.C. defends plan to delay second dose as Ontario, Alberta consider following suit
VANCOUVER — British Columbia health officials say their plan to delay the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to four months is based on scientific evidence and real-world experience, as Ontario and Alberta consider following the province’s lead.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, responded Tuesday to criticism from Canada’s chief science adviser. Henry said the decision was made in the context of limited supply and based on strong local and international data.
“This makes sense for us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide that protection … to everybody here,” Henry said at a COVID-19 briefing.
“That is why we made the decision that we did.”
Chief science adviser Mona Nemer told the CBC on Monday that B.C.’s plan amounts to a “population-level experiment” and that the data provided so far by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech is based on an interval of three to four weeks between doses.
Henry said the manufacturers structured their clinical trials that way to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible, but research in B.C., Quebec, Israel and the United Kingdom has shown that first doses are highly effective.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control examined the effects of a single dose on long-term care residents and health-care workers and found that it reduced the risk of the virus by up to 90 per cent within two to three weeks, Henry said.
“It is a little bit unfortunate that the national science adviser … obviously was not involved in some of these discussions and decision-making and perhaps did not understand the context that this decision was made in,” Henry said.
Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiology lead whose work underpinned the province’s plan, said Pfizer-BioNTech underestimated the efficacy of its first dose in its submissions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Skowronski said the company included data from the first two weeks after trial participants received the shot, a time when vaccines typically aren’t effective. When she and her colleagues adjusted the data, they found it was 92 per cent effective, similar to the Moderna vaccine.
She said B.C.’s plan was based on the basic principles of vaccine science. The protection from a first dose of vaccine does not suddenly disappear, it gradually wanes over time, and scientists are typically more concerned about providing a second dose too soon rather than too late, she said.
“I think if the public had a chance to hear and to understand that, they would say, ‘OK, this is not messing around. This is really managing risk in a way that maximizes protection to as many Canadians as possible.'”
B.C. has administered 283,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to date, including more than 86,000 second doses. The province reported 438 new cases of the virus on Tuesday and two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365.
Henry said she expects a statement soon from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization aligning with the province’s decision, while Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday she wanted to wait for such a recommendation.
Elliott said extending the interval between doses would allow the province to get some level of protection to more people.
“This would be a considerable change,” she said.
“With the variants of concern out there, this could make a significant difference for Ontario in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. So, we are anxiously awaiting NACI’s review of this to determine what they have to say in their recommendations.”
Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the national committee, said in an email the group is expected to issue a statement on extending the dose interval on Wednesday, but she did not confirm it would align with B.C.’s plan.
Alberta’s health minister said a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision on whether to follow B.C.’s lead is coming.
“There’s fantastic evidence that’s coming out,” Tyler Shandro said Tuesday.
“What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We’ll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended.”
Alberto Martin, a University of Toronto immunology professor, said there is “obviously some concern” about B.C.’s plan because he is not aware of any clinical trial that examined a four-month gap between Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses.
However, he said difficult times — when the vaccine supply is so limited — require drastic measures.
“It’s a difficult decision to make. I don’t know whether I’d like to be in that position, but I think it’s understandable why they’re doing this.”
Daniel Coombs, a University of British Columbia mathematician who has done COVID-19 modelling, said Nemer was right that B.C. was conducting an “experiment,” but it seemed to be a necessary one.
He added that the province may also be anticipating the approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot.
Michael Houghton, director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the University of Alberta, said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine data shows that one shot conveys 76 per cent protection for the next 12 weeks.
Houghton said he is more concerned about extending the dose interval to 16 weeks for the other two approved vaccines.
“These make vaccinologists nervous since, usually, we use in the real world what was tested in the clinic, but given the vaccine shortage, perhaps desperate times warrant such calculated gambles.”
— With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Toronto and Sylvia Strojek in Edmonton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.
Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
Calgary man pleads guilty in deaths of girlfriend, mother, stepfather
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to killing his girlfriend, mother and stepfather in 2018.
Prosecutor Shane Parker says Dustin Duthie pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion.
An agreed statement of facts says Toller, Duthie’s girlfriend of five years, was last seen on July 26, 2018, and that police found her in her bed with her throat slit five days later.
The document says that on the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times and covered her with a plastic sheet.
The statement says Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning Boshuk’s blood and Duthie stabbed his stepfather eight times.
One of Duthie’s pit bulls was stabbed, but survived with surgery, and Pennylegion’s pet dog was stabbed and died.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021
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