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Alleged member of the Red Scorpions reserves plea

Three of the four people charged in a gang-related drug raid made their first appearance in court, all reserving pleas to a later date.

Cory Lesperance, 29, of Red Deer, is alleged to be a member of the Red Scorpions, a B.C.-based gang known for their alleged involvement in the drug trade and their activities during the Vancouver drug war.

He and three others, identified by police as associates, were charged after a July 23 three-city drug raid in Alberta. They appeared in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday before Judge John Holmes.

Lesperance appeared by closed-circuit television as he is being held in custody at the Red Deer Remand Centre. His counsel, Brad Mulder, asked that he be given a week to review disclosure and have the matter postponed for a week to Aug. 7.

Federal Crown prosecutor David Inglis said the disclosure would be substantial and he would pass it along once he received it from police.

Co-accused Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, was released from custody after his arrest. He appeared in court at the same time as Lesperance. Stewart is seeking counsel and his charges were moved to the same day.

Stewart and Lesperance were arrested on July 23 at 55 Balmoral Heights, just east of Red Deer. They both face drug trafficking and weapons charges.

As Lesperance left the video conference room at the Red Deer Remand Centre, he saluted to the camera.

Nicholas David James White, 21, appeared separately from Lesperance and Stewart in the prisoners box. The charges White faces were read aloud by the clerk, unlike Lesperance or Stewart. White has been charged with possession of cocaine and psilocybin, magic mushrooms, for the purpose of trafficking, possession of the proceeds of a crime under $5,000 and breaching his recognizance by being in possession of a controlled substance.

White nonchalantly answered in the affirmative when he was asked if he understood the charges.

Andrew Phypers, defence counsel for White, asked that his plea and election be adjourned to Aug. 14 so he could have time to review the matter.

The fourth person, Amber McLeod, 23, is scheduled to appear this morning in Red Deer provincial court. She has been released from custody.

Inglis has decided to prosecute all four separately.

They were all arrested last week as Red Deer RCMP, Calgary Police Service, Airdrie RCMP and the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team completed a two-month investigation into an alleged drug trafficking operation centred in Red Deer.

At a press conference on Monday, Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said the drugs, as well as weapons, were brought in from the Lower Mainland part of B.C. and taken to Airdrie for storage. The commodities were then allegedly brought to Red Deer for distribution.

Lesperance, formerly from the Lower Mainland area of B.C., and White are also co-accused on another series of charges, including trafficking, weapons and possession of property obtained by crime. These allegations stem from a November 2013 arrest after a co-ordinated bust conducted by both Red Deer and Innisfail RCMP.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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