Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jun 2009
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 The Calgary Sun
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Drugs Valued In Excess Of $8 Million Seized And 14 People Arrested

In making the largest cocaine bust in Alberta history, city police say
they've won a major battle but not the war.

In a series of seizures spanning a year that eventually led to the
discovery of 80 kg of cocaine with a street value of $8 million, police
say they've broken the back of a major organization that moved the drug
from B.C. into Alberta.

But Staff Sgt. Darren Cave said it's only one criminal group among a
number plying the lucrative trade in a city whose continued affluence
feeds an appetite for the drug.

"This is one criminal organization we've put a dent in -- we realize there
are others out there," said Cave, standing behind bags and tightly-wrapped
bricks of cocaine and several firearms seized in raids.

"They're never really shut down ... for criminals, it's all they know,
they'll re-start."

Even some of the 14 people arrested in the crackdown and since released,
he said, could be back committing crimes.

But police believe Operation High Noon, which began with a raid in January
2008 that netted 42 kg of cocaine from a safe in a home in the 300 block
of Hawthorne Dr. N.W., drove up the price of cocaine by reducing its

Police also found 25 kg of the drug in the same home a week earlier.

In the months after that, police found an additional 13 kg of cocaine
cleverly hidden in vehicles in what was a sophisticated operation.

"It's not just someone ripping out a seat cushion -- it goes far beyond
that, " said Cave, adding the active part of the investigation ended last

"What you're seeing here is part of the upper echelon of the distribution

The discovery of packaging for 20 more kilos of cocaine that "illustrates
the high volume of cocaine passing through our city," he said.

Cave said Calgary's relative affluence means much of the cocaine heading
to Calgary -- including that seized in Operation High Noon -- is destined
for city users.

"It's staying here -- you've got to look at the economy in Calgary," he said.

Police held off on announcing the entire scope of the seizures until
prosecutors were certain they could lay trafficking conspiracy charges --
an offence rarely alleged by local authorities, said Cave.

Police also seized $330,000 in cash from the suspects in an investigation
that involved police forces in B.C. and throughout Alberta.

Prosecutors, he said, are seeking 15-20 prison sentences for the most
serious offences.
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