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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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Alberta

St. Paul RCMP looking for witness to assault on officer

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Nov. 20, 2019

St. Paul RCMP charge male after officer assaulted

St. Paul County, Alta. – On Nov. 12, 2019 at approximately 4:30 p.m., St.  Paul RCMP responded to a report of an intoxicated male on Highway 36 near Cork Hall in St. Paul County.

An officer of the Eastern Alberta District Rural Crime Reduction Unit (EADRCRU) was near by and responded to the area. The suspect male was located on the side of the highway and arrested as a matter of ensuring his safety.

During the arrest the male resisted and assaulted the officer by striking him in the head, face, and neck. The officer was able to gain control of the male after deployment of a Taser. The suspect male was assessed by EMS and then transported to the St. Paul RCMP Detachment.  The officer was transported to the hospital and later transferred by EMS to Edmonton for additional assessment and treatment for serious non-life threatening injuries.

Elmer Jackson (40) of Saddle Lake was charged with:

  • Assault of a police officer causing bodily harm
  • Resisting arrest
  • Causing a disturbance

He was remanded into custody after a judicial hearing and will be appearing in St. Paul Provincial Court on Nov. 28, 2019.

St. Paul RCMP would like to speak to an adult female who was pulled over at the scene prior to police attending and remained on scene to witness the incident until the male was taken into custody. The witness departed on Highway 36 before she could be identified and was driving a newer white Ford Edge. The witness is asked to contact St. Paul RCMP at 780-645-8870 or your local police.

As this matter is now before the courts, no further information will be released.

 

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Alberta

Todayville Travel: Turks and Caicos – The Road Less Travelled

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Turks and Caicos – The Road Less Travelled

I once had political aspirations. It was the early 1980s. A federal election was brewing. At the same time a tiny chain of British islands in the Caribbean – the Turks and Caicos – had expressed interest in forming an association with Canada.

What a great idea: Canada’s own warm, winter destination. No more currency exchange swindles or fighting with hefty American tourists in a Cancun buffet line-up; just a happy bunch of Canucks soaking up the sun in our own polite corner of tropical paradise.

I would make political hay by running for office on this simple, single platform: promoting a union between Canada and the Turks and Caicos. It seemed a worthwhile diversion from Alberta’s traditional campaign issues: complaining about Quebec and letting the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.

Alas, I didn’t run and my nascent political ambitions, like the election, came and went. The Turks and Caicos dream faded into the blue yonder; our Prime Minister went back to exclaiming “fuddle duddle” in Parliament and the West returned to detesting the East over trivial issues such as who was going to get Alberta’s gazillion petro dollars. And instead of milking the federal treasury I ended up in law school and eventually Red Deer where I practiced law for a quarter century before concluding that life was too short to spend behind a desk – even if it were in the corner office.

Coral reef surrounds Providenciales

But some people follow through on that early opportunity to chart a different course. Bruce Twa, a law school buddy, had lawyered through a few cold Alberta winters when a chance phone call offered him the prospect of practicing warm-winter law – in the Turks and Caicos. Bruce jumped at the offer. He has now been resident in the “TCIs” for over twenty-five years, transacting real estate deals on behalf of wealthy, sophisticated, discreet clients – when he’s not boating in the azure-coloured waters or snorkeling amongst parrotfish and turtles in the coral reef surrounding the islands.

Conch Vendor

I had promised (threatened?) to visit Bruce on numerous occasions over the years. Finally, arrangements were made. We’d see the tropical paradise Canada had snubbed and find out how my naïve 1980s political ambitions may have panned out.

My wife Florence and I learned even before clearing customs at Providenciales airport that the TCIs still maintain a quaint “small-island” feel. Bruce and his wife Darlene had graciously offered to host us during our stay but the border guard wouldn’t allow us entry. We didn’t have Bruce’s home address. The officer shook his head many times, threatening us with expulsion, before calling in his superior.

She looked at our paperwork, “Oh, you staying with Bruce? I just give him a call and get his house number.” She dialled and five minutes later we were standing on the curb, throwing our stuff into Bruce’s pickup.

We had only four days in the TCIs; a wise use of time was paramount. I wanted to evaluate whether Canada had blundered or done right in spurning the wishes of this British Protectorate. A quick but thorough analysis of the culture, economy and history was in order. I’d keep a tally of the positives and negatives. We began our research in a calculated, scientific fashion: so we went for beer and seafood, stuffing ourselves with fresh conch and island brew. The conch fritters were fantastic but the local beer (Turk’s Head) was awful. Score: one/one.

Darlene, nice. Turk’s Head, not so nice.

In the morning Bruce offered us the use of his beater truck so we could explore the island. I was a bit nervous about driving a standard stick shift in a strange country. “Don’t worry,” said Bruce, “Provo (that’s what the locals call Providenciales) is small, you really can’t get lost”. I felt better until I turned out of his driveway onto the main highway and realized everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road. I geared down and careened into the steamy Caribbean chaos.

Our methodical investigation continued… with lunch by the sea at Grace Bay – named by Condé Nast as one of the top beaches in the world. The fish was delectable and the beer (Presidente, imported from the Dominican Republic) palatable. The score was starting to favour the unionists.

That afternoon Bruce abandoned his clients to take us on an insider’s tour of his small island. The TCIs are a string of Cays (“Keys”) located at the eastern end of the Bahamas chain. The capital is Grand Turk, an island 100 kilometers from Providenciales. There are numerous small Cays – mostly uninhabited – between these two major islands. Due largely to the influence of Canadian ex-pats, Provo has evolved to become both the commercial and tourism center of the TCIs.

Bruce drove us through the high-rent district. If you are in the market for a multi-million dollar beachside home, Provo has plenty to offer. And if you change your mind and decide to sell, there is no tax payable on any gain in value. In fact there’s no tax of any kind in the TCIs: no tax on income or capital gains and no annual property tax on your house. But import duties and the cost of living are painfully high. Duty can be as much as 45% of a car’s value. And when you buy your dream home in paradise there is a one-time stamp fee payable equal to 9.75% of the purchase price. On a $1,000,000 property the fee is almost $100,000! Ouch, that’s a lot of postage.

These punishing import duties have led to some clever avoidance strategies. For example, the Turks and Caicos has many, many churches… all exempt from duty. Thus, even the humblest pastor usually drives a shiny new SUV.

We also toured the low-rent district, a stone’s throw from where the millionaire’s reside. The poor area, dubbed Five Cays, is where the immigrant workers – primarily Haitian – live.

The unmaintained road into Five Cays is almost impassable. This explains the abandoned vehicles we encountered – some converted into makeshift shelters; and many of the shanty houses here are a work-in-progress.

Home sweet home

“We build piece-piece,” the locals explain. Bruce often does free legal work for the poor of Five Cays. He should be careful. This kind of attitude could bring an end to lawyer jokes.

There are a number of different, confusing categories of residency in the TCIs. We arrived on a temporary (30 day) permit. Bruce and his wife are permanent residents. The Haitians rely on work permit residency.

Then there are the “Belongers”. Only those persons born on the islands (with island ancestry) are true citizens, entitled to vote and hold office. Bruce and Darlene have been permanent residents of the TCIs for over two decades but can’t vote. They’ll never be Belongers.

This bizarre restriction on citizenship has led indirectly to a major challenge facing the Turks and Caicos: a legacy of nepotism and corruption. One afternoon Bruce took us snorkeling. We boated past the palatial home of ex-premier Michael Misick in the Leeward neighbourhood of Provo.

Michael Misick’s mansion

After building his mansion Mr. Misick leased it to the government. Then he moved in – as tenant – and collected $10,000 a month in rent from government coffers. The same day we cruised by the house, Interpol apprehended Mr. Misick in Rio de Janeiro on an international arrest warrant on charges of corruption and maladministration. Michael Misick apparently lacks neither cash nor gumption.

The tally was thickening. Would it really benefit Canada to get into bed with these types – even if the bed was a hammock swaying in a tropical breeze?

Bonefish put up a helluva fight!

Time was running short. To judge matters objectively I needed more first-hand data… so I went bonefishing with “Bar”, a local guide. Wow! The fight presented by these fish is absurd. If you are a fly-fisherman put this adventure on your bucket-list. One moment I was admiring a juvenile nurse shark hovering in the shallow waters beneath Bar’s flat-bottomed boat and the next the line was spinning uncontrollably outward. It was ten minutes before I had that slippery little devil in my hands.

Motoring back to Provo we trolled past Bruce Willis’ house on Parrot Cay but the place looked deserted. Perhaps he was over at Demi Moore’s place having an ex-spouse, ex-pat spat.

 

I owed Bar $500 for the morning’s fishing (I told you the TCIs are expensive). We agreed to meet at a bank up the road – but as we pulled in it was being robbed. “What happened?” I asked the security guard next door. “Sketchy… it happen piece-piece,” he answered cryptically. Crime is not really an issue in the TCIs but, embarrassingly, the Provo Police Station had also recently been burgled. Thieves made off with guns, ammo and drugs held for pending court cases; adding insult to injury the police force’s new uniforms ended up at a local pawnshop.

Then there’s the “Potcakes” – Provo’s stray dogs. Packs of barking Potcakes roam the streets of this little island at night, stealing sleep from rich and poor alike. Unfortunately, the government funding for a much-needed sterilization program came unleashed amid allegations of… corruption.

Bruce retrieves an AWOL Biana.

Bruce’s dog Biana is a former Potcake, now fully civilized. During our boating afternoon Biana grew seasick but jumped overboard rather than vomit in her master’s vessel. Bruce cut the motor, dove in and brought his AWOL canine back aboard; then she threw up.

The final tally? It’s difficult to say. On our last night any negative karma evaporated when I stepped onto Bruce’s deck, into the sultry Provo darkness, and smelled the air. Have you ever encountered night-blooming jasmine? The fragrance is difficult to describe but should I ever again detect its beauty floating on a tropical evening breeze, the recollection will return like scented déjà vu.

Perhaps it’s best to let the Turks and Caicos dream drift away, unfulfilled. Like most things in life – politics included – things aren’t so simple as may first appear. Still, it sure would be nice to see the Maple Leaf fluttering over a tropical sunset.

About the author:

Click below to read about some of Gerry’s other great travel adventures.

 

 

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