Red Scorpion gang member, associates arrested near Red Deer
A two-month drug investigation has led to the arrest of four people, and the seizure of more than 1.4 kg of drugs and guns.
Police believe there are links to a notorious and violent Vancouver-based gang.
At the centre of this investigation is Cory James Lesperance, 29, who police believe to be a member of the Red Scorpions gang.
Three others — Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, Nicholas David James White, 21, and Amber McLeod, 23 — were arrested in a joint three-city raid by Red Deer RCMP, Calgary Police, Airdrie RCMP and the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team on Wednesday. Warrants were executed on residences in Airdrie, Calgary and Red Deer.
Stewart and Lesperance were arrested at a residence in the Balmoral Heights subdivision, just east of Red Deer. White and McLeod were arrested at a residence in Calgary.
“We conducted this investigation to address the drug trafficking activities of the Red Scorpions and their presence in Southern and Central Alberta,” said Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Sarah Knelsen, during a press conference on Monday at the downtown detachment.
Lesperance, originally from British Columbia, was the primary target of the investigation.
“He is alleged to be a member of the Red Scorpions and is alleged to be the centre of a drug trafficking operation in Alberta,” said Knelsen.
Initiated by the Red Deer RCMP Street Team in June, other enforcement teams were brought on board to expedite the investigation.
Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said Lesperance has ties to the lower mainland area of B.C., where the Red Scorpions gang started.
“Demonstrated by the weapons seized, it is clear these individuals were willing and able to resort to violence,” said Schiavetta. “This should be a relief to people in these communities that these individuals are in custody.
“The reality is many of B.C.’s gang members are coming to Alberta to escape violence and threats of violence because in gang life, there are only three ways out — death, jail or the long arduous task of exiting the game,” said Schiavetta.
“We believe this particular gang has had members in Alberta for the past two years.”
Schiavetta said gangs see Alberta as a lucrative market for the expansion because of the amount of disposable income here.
“We had individuals residing in Calgary using Airdrie as a place where they would stash firearms and drugs and then subsequently would bring those commodities up to Red Deer for distribution,” said Schiavetta, adding their information was that most of the drugs were coming from B.C.
“We believe there are other individuals associated to this gang and we’re going through our intelligence and our investigation to look at any other possible avenues of investigation for additional people.”
Among the items police found at the three residences were 512 grams of methamphetamine, 517 grams of cocaine, 52 grams of heroin, 264 grams of marijuana, 80 grams of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), 130 ml of anabolic steroids, a cocaine conversion lab, scales, packaging, drug paraphernalia, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a stolen shotgun with ammunition, three replica handguns, $8,955 in cash and two vehicles.
“I think this is a significant dent in this organization,” said Schiavetta. “This is what they had at the present time when the search warrants were executed. It’s a snapshot into their daily activity.”
Lesperance was charged with five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm without a licence, possession of stolen property over $5,000, possession of a prohibited weapon and five counts of breaching an undertaking or recognizance.
Stewart was charged with five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, breach of an undertaking or recognizance, possession of stolen property over $5,000 and possession of a prohibited firearm.
White has been charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and two counts of breaching an undertaking or recognizance.
McLeod has been charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of stolen property over $5,000.
All four will appear in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday morning.
Both Lesperance and White have preliminary inquiries scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, on charges from a November 2013 arrest. That investigation, conducted by both Innisfail and Red Deer RCMP, led to arrests made in both communities. They both face drug and gun-related charges. Both were released from custody on recognizance orders with strict conditions, including weapons prohibitions.