Sgt. Gerald Ouellet

Police squad targets local organized crime

A specialized team tackling organized crime was officially introduced in Red Deer on Thursday.

A specialized team tackling organized crime was officially introduced in Red Deer on Thursday.

Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) has set up the Red Deer Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU), a team of undercover officers who have been working in the city since November to tackle drug trafficking networks, thefts, gang activity, and marijuana grow operations.

The team will target street-level criminals, as well as probe larger crime groups inside and outside Alberta’s borders.

Sgt. Gerald Ouellet, officer in charge of the Red Deer unit, said the officers have been working out of the Red Deer city RCMP detachment, primarily assisting detachments in the region. Up to 10 individuals are in the unit now but it will be beefed up to 15.

“Organized crime knows no boundaries,” said Ouellet.

ALERT has established regional teams across Alberta since setting up in 2006. Others are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

These teams include municipal police, RCMP and sheriffs who work together across all jurisdictions. They lead investigations and also help other police partners like Calgary Police Service.

The Red Deer RCMP also has a general investigation section, which delves more into serious crimes within Red Deer.

The new unit will have more of a regional approach and focus on organized crime.

“Our investigations tend to be lengthy because organized crime groups are very sophisticated,” said Ouellet.

RCMP Supt. Warren Dosko said this unit will help bring about a safer community for Red Deer.

“We’ve certainly used them to date in our serious crimes (investigations) and they’ve been a significant value over the last three to four months,” said Dosko. “We see that relationship growing where we’re working in partnership and sharing intelligence.”

The new unit is jointly funded by the province and the City of Red Deer.

Last August, council supported contributing half of the costs, up to $150,000, towards renovating undeveloped space in the downtown city detachment. Dollars would come from municipal reserves and the detachment building surplus.

The city also agreed to provide six municipal RCMP members — three Mounties already working at the detachment and the remaining new officers to be funded over the next several years. Each officer costs $130,000 to $140,000 annually.

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