It started the way numerous RCMP investigation files start, through developing intelligence, interaction and talking to people.
It led to a four-person arrest, all of whom police believe to be either members or associate members of the Red Scorpions, a B.C.-based gang that has started to crop up in Red Deer.
This wasn’t the first time the Red Scorpions had been on the Red Deer RCMP’s radar. In November 2013 they arrested Cory Lesperance, 29, and Nicholas David James White, 21, on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Then they believed them to be members of the Red Scorpions.
“That was the birth of the Red Scorpions in Red Deer as we know it,” said Const. Josh Matthies. “At that point there were only two members. They were charged under that first file.”
Turned on to Lesperance again, he becomes the centre of the most recent investigation in June this year. Intelligence still flows through talking with people in the community, surveillance to corroborate information and from there the RCMP form a belief about what is going on.
Also during this time the role of Sandra Bibby, police intelligence analyst, comes into play. As she does with many other RCMP investigations, she takes files and looks for patterns, links, trends and other ways that may connect people, places or situations.
“From that point we build our grounds that a criminal act is being committed,” said Matthies. “From there we obtained search warrants.”
Then on Aug.
Less than year after the November 2013, White and Lesperance are arrested again, this time with two new alleged accomplices – Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, and Amber McLeod, 23.
Lesperance and Stewart are arrested at a Balmoral Heights residence east of Red Deer, while McLeod and White are arrested in Airdrie.
“By no means is the work done at that point,” said Const. Kevin Lintott. “There are a lot more hours coming after that for the whole team.”
Bibby said the fact that there have been two files on the Red Scorpions in less than a year shows police are well aware the gang operates in Red Deer and police will continue to investigate.
“There are different levels of drug trafficking in every city,” said Lintott. “You have the higher up and the lower echelon that gets it to the street.”
Police consider the bust to be that of mid-level drug taffickers.
“The amount we seized were not street-level by any means,” said Matthies. “It was a high quantity of drugs for Red Deer.”
Matthies said because of Red Deer’s central location, and nearby resources they find it can attract gangs.
“Because Red Deer isn’t a Calgary or Edmonton it seems like it is appealing to crime groups to show up and try to be under the radar as long as they can and still conduct their business.
“We see it occurring more often that the B.C. gangs are moving here.”
Sgt. Eric McKenzie said the attraction is Alberta’s wealth and the number of people with disposable income.
Lesperance faces 15 drugs and weapons charges, Stewart faces eight drugs and weapons charges and McLeod and White also face several drug related charges. They next appear in court on Sept. 11.