One of the biggest drug busts in Red Deer history contributed to a huge haul of drugs, cash and weapons displayed by RCMP on Thursday.
Three people, two from Edmonton and one from Calgary, face a total of 50 charges after Red Deer RCMP executed five search warrants last Aug. 8 in central and southern Alberta as part of a major drug investigation that began in June.
Upwards of 50 officers from numerous detachments and units were involved in the operation that would lead to another investigation in Calgary, ending in more arrests and drugs seized in September.
“This is one of the most significant drugs seizures we’ve seen in Red Deer,” said Red Deer RCMP Insp. Dean LaGrange, backed by two long tables covered in dozens of packages of drugs, wads of Canadian cash and photos of an arsenal of seized weapons, including a Mac 11 submachine gun with silencer.
Sgt. Robert Schultz said the officers involved in drug busts like this one pride themselves on targeting those who “pollute our communities with violence, weapons and drugs, and (who) selfishly prey on our most vulnerable citizens.”
Schultz said the investigation showed the drug operation flowed between Red Deer and the communities to the south and was not bound to one area.
The level in the drug hierarchy of those arrested is “significant,” said Schultz, who is with Red Deer RCMP general investigation section. “They are not in the business of actually selling drugs on the corner. These are your suppliers.”
How big a dent the arrests make in the drug business is tough to determine. “I would say it takes a player out of the game. It takes a product off the street.
“Is it going to stop? I would say no. But it definitely hurts with this kind of currency and this kind of product (seized).”
Seized were nine weapons, including a Mac 11 submachine gun, $61,000 in Canadian cash and a huge quantity of drugs, including nearly 10.5 kg of cocaine, fentanyl, ketamine and methamphetamine.
Schultz said the Red Deer investigation soon led to ties with criminals in Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County. Police from Calgary and multiple RCMP detachments and units, including federal serious and organized crime teams, descended on a Red Deer residence and residences in the other communities, as well as a vehicle, in a co-ordinated operation on the same day.
The fallout from this operation triggered an investigation in Calgary that saw two more people arrested and $41,000 in cash, 700 fentanyl pills, 750 grams of cocaine, 750 grams of MDMA, 2.2 kg of phenacetin, 550 grams of cannabis condensate and quantities of marijuana seized.
Mayor Tara Veer said crime and public safety have consistently been the community’s biggest concerns.
“A seizure of this scale and the subsequent arrests is absolutely tremendous news for our community safety objectives,” said Veer.
“We know that drug trade and trafficking predominately drives the crime in Red Deer region.”
Besides crime, drug trafficking leads to social consequences around addiction, which includes the deadly effects of fentanyl.
“Certainly our community is safer today because this supply is no longer on the streets.”
Steve Tuan Minh Do, 42, of Calgary, is facing 40 charges, including 20 drug trafficking and 20 weapons-related charges. He has been released from custody and scheduled to appear in Calgary provincial court on April 3.
Beau Charles Burles, 32, of Edmonton but formerly of Red Deer and Sylvan Lake, is facing four drug trafficking charges.
Hayley Van Dellen, 32, of Edmonton is facing four drug trafficking charges and three weapons-related charges.