The Red Deer RCMP seized a large quantity of drugs and 15 guns from five suspected drug dealers. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)

The Red Deer RCMP seized a large quantity of drugs and 15 guns from five suspected drug dealers. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)

Red Deer’s ALERT unit contributes to big year for law enforcement group

Red Deer unit arrested 35, seized 30 firearms and laid 257 charges

The Red Deer unit of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) seized 30 firearms and laid 257 charges against 35 suspects, says the organization in its 2020-21 annual report.

Despite the pandemic, it was a busy year for ALERT, which pulls together RCMP, police officers, sheriffs and other agencies as part of an effort to tackle the most serious crimes.

Alberta-wide ALERT officers seized $6.5 million in drugs, 98 firearms and close to $2 million in cash and other proceeds of crime. In all, 312 people were arrested who face 1,471 charges.

ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta said the organization doubled the size of its Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit to deal with a “staggering” number of new case referrals, which were up 41 per cent over the previous year.

The ICE unit rescued 17 children and arrested 145 people, who are facing about 500 charges related to child pornography, child luring, sexual assault, and invitation to sexual touching among others. More than 2,000 computers, tablets, cellphones, gaming devices and USBs were seized containing nearly 500,000 photos and videos depicting child sexual abuse.

Among those arrested was a 33-year-old Red Deer man in January. He was identified by Saskatchewan ICE as allegedly sharing sexually explicit materials and luring a young Regina girl through a social media application. The offences date back to October 2019.

Another major operation by Red Deer RCMP and ALERT resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of drugs, 15 guns and lead to 60 charges against five suspected drug dealers.

The investigations began in August 2020 and four Red Deer homes were searched on Jan. 27.

Combined, both investigations seized nearly $90,000 worth of drugs and cash, including, 593 grams of methamphetamine; 152 grams of fentanyl; 69 grams of cocaine; 1,416 millilitres of GHB; 28 grams of psilocybin mushrooms 65 illicit prescription pills and $10,865 cash.

Fifteen firearms were seized, including five rifles, five handguns, three shotguns, and two homemade zip guns. The homemade guns will be sent to RCMP’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team for forensic analysis and ballistics testing.

There was also a central Alberta connection to a large bust that broke up a drug trafficking network that extended from Edmonton to Bowden Institution. Eleven suspects, including two Bowden inmates, were arrested and more than $300,000 in drugs and cash seized after homes St. Albert and Edmonton were searched last December.

Among ALERT’s other highlights was the recovery of $7.3 million in stolen vehicles by the Auto Crimes Unit, which was launched in April 2020.

The Drug Trafficking Unit seized 30 kilograms of cocaine, 38 kilograms of methamphetamines, three kilograms of fentanyl and 6,913 opioid or illegal prescription pills.

A newly formed Southwest Regional Property Crimes Unit started off strongly by recovering nearly $800,000 in stolen property, most of which was earmarked to be sold to finance drug operations.

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