A suspected drug criminal was travelling with more than $500,000 cash in his vehicle when he was stopped near Olds by the provincial RCMP Roving Traffic Unit earlier this month.
Supt. Howard Eaton, officer-in-charge of RCMP K-Division Traffic Services, said the vehicle was stopped along Hwy 2 on April 7.
“He was driving south in a vehicle with that kind of money and was obviously going down to do a transaction that was illegal,” said Eaton on Wednesday.
The money was hidden. The RCMP dog, which is used as part of this unit, walked around the vehicle and then sat down, indicating there was drug odour on the vehicle. Police then had the grounds to open up the vehicle for a search, said Eaton.
On Tuesday, Eaton addressed media at K Division headquarters in Edmonton to show the extent of contraband seized by the RCMP Roving Traffic Unit (RTU) on Alberta highways in the last three months. The unit confiscated almost 181 kg of marijuana, or more than 700,000 joints.
Other illegal drugs — cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and crystal meth — were also seized in large quantities. Officers also recovered a Beretta handgun, along with two magazines, and seized more than $400,000 in cash during traffic stops.
Eaton said that no drivers are being targeted during these crackdowns.
“They are out there shagging speeders,” said Eaton. “They are trained to look for other symptoms and signs. Usually, they are paired up with a police dog.”
Eaton said police are not shocked by the extent of drugs and other contraband they find during these routine pullovers. Rather, they are pleased.
Police understand, though, that they are only getting a dribble of what is being transported on Alberta highways, he added.
The unit is mainly targeting pipeline routes coming in from British Columbia. They regularly patrol Hwy 63 near Fort McMurray, Hwy 43 near Grande Prairie, Hwy 16 (from Jasper to Lloydminster), Hwy 2 and Hwy 1. The traffic units are driving fully marked police vehicles and they go out in groups so they can saturate an area.
Police say these specialized teams directly contribute to reducing crime and they keep Alberta roads safe.
“They’re taking a bite out of organized crime,” said Eaton. “We’re talking major money here.”
RCMP had on display 70,000 hits of the date rape drug, which would represent the potential market in the whole city of Red Deer, Eaton said.
Also on display were eight firearms and $1 million worth of cocaine, plus dozens and dozens of stolen credit cards.
“It’s important to take these things off our streets because it makes our communities like Red Deer and other places safer,” he added.